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ICAI councils fight shy of transparency clause
June, 29th 2013

Two regional bodies within Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), the apex body of chartered accountants supposed to enforce transparency in financial world, have shown themselves wary of similar transparency. They steered clear of a proposal to impose a disclosure norm for their elected members. It called for maintaining a register noting down contracts awarded to any elected member by the institute's regional councils.

The matter was put forth to be discussed in annual general meeting of the ICAI's Western India Regional Council (WIRC) held on Thursday. The WIRC maintained that the central council has asked it to refrain from taking any such decision without its permission. Recently ICAI was embarrassed when a controversial Rs 100 crore deal involving its former chief was cancelled.

Arun Anandgiri, the chartered accountant who mooted the proposal, had moved the high court but the court asked him to first approach the central council. ICAI is formed by an Act of the parliament and divided into various regional councils with the central council at the apex level. All bodies are headed by elected representatives. A similar proposal was mooted in the Southern India Regional Council (SIRC) too but the council's AGM has been postponed indefinitely. In SIRC, P S Prabhakar, who mooted the proposal, was also told that the matter was in the central council's domain.

Anandagiri and others in the group say that Register 301, as it is called, is already mandatory for the corporates that chartered accountants audit. The purpose is to ensure that none takes undue advantage of being an insider. He alleged that the central council had issued a whip that a decision on this should not be taken without its permission. "My suggestions were in the interest of corporate governance. At the last moment I was informed that the proposal cannot be tabled as there was directive from ICAI head office," said Anandagiri. He said a code of conduct was proposed for elected members eight years ago but no action has been taken on that so far.

ICAI president Subodh Agrawal and SIRC chairman Prasanna Kumar did not respond to repeated calls and SMS by TOI. WIRC chairman Mangesh Kinare said the matter has been forwarded to the central council with the consent of those present at the AGM. "Of course, it is a good proposal but the issued has to be addressed by the central council so there is no point in WIRC taking up the discussions," he said.

One of the chartered accountants in the AGM, who is also director in a couple of leading companies, said WIRC could voluntarily adopt the norm. On this, he was told a discussion would be held with the elected members, said Giri.

Julfesh Shah, an elected member in the WIRC from Nagpur, refused to comment. However, Samir Bakre, former chairman of Nagpur branch, said any proposal that promoted transparency should be encouraged.

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