Crooked accountants dent profession’s reputation, says Saica –

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Accountants convicted of stealing money, in some cases millions, from employers damaged the profession’s standing, the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) said as another accountant was jailed for theft.
The Durban regional court sentenced accountant Zakariya Vahed this week to 15 years’ imprisonment for stealing more than R7m from 2009 to 2019. 
Hawks spokesperson Capt Simphiwe Mhlongo said Vahed was found guilty on 93 counts of fraud. 
“He fraudulently transferred cash from the company’s bank account to his personal account. As a result, the company suffered a financial loss of more than R7m,” Mhlongo said.  
Saica said it had referred chartered accountant Mark Jonathan Vorster to its board to confirm cancellation of his membership after he was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for theft, fraud and money laundering related to the temporary employee relief scheme (TERS). 
Vorster submitted fraudulent UIF claims on behalf of five companies that were using his services and received just les than R900,000 from the fraudulent transactions. Hawks spokesperson Capt Lloyd Ramovha said Vorster was since struck off and could no longer  practise as a chartered accountant.  
Saica CEO Freeman Nomvalo said the actions of a “small number” of their members negatively affected the standing of the profession. 
“In the circumstances, Saica conducts investigations and, where appropriate, disciplinary processes to ensure that the affected Saica members are held accountable for their actions on a fair and equitable basis,” said Nomvalo. 
Nomvalo said that from 2016 to 2023 Saica suspended 18 members and cancelled the membership of 12 for breaching Saica’s bylaws and disciplinary code.  “Saica has always and will continue to take the appropriate steps to ensure the chartered accountancy profession remains one of the most valued and respected professions in the interest of all our stakeholders, as well as society at large.” 
Several accountants and senior financial officers were convicted of stealing money from private companies and the government in recent years. Millions stolen by corrupt staff harm companies such as those in the insurance industry. 
In March, Free State financial officer Mareli Vogel was convicted for stealing R2.5m through fraudulent transactions from 2014 to2020. 
Last year, the Pretoria commercial crimes court convicted a former Synexus financial manager, Aaron Tshwane Matsei, for defrauding the company of more than R250,000.  
In June 2021, it was reported that accountant Nicholas Scholtz was convicted of stealing R4.1m from a Western Cape municipality. 
In 2017, Cape Town chartered accountant Willem Roux Mouton was convicted of defrauding the Eastern Cape Development Corporation of R1.3m meant to boost a small business. He was sentenced to eight years in prison. 
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