ASIC cracks down on SMSF auditors

11 auditors breached obligations, says regulator

ASIC cracks down on SMSF auditors


By Ryan Johnson

ASIC has acted against 11 self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) auditors for breaching their obligations as the regulator continues its crackdown on the niche but growing market.

The breaches, which occurred in the September quarter 2023, include auditing and assurance standards, independence requirements and registration conditions.

ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court (pictured above) said SMSF auditors have a “critical role in upholding the integrity” of the SMSF sector through annual audits.

“They oversee over 610,000 SMSFs, representing more than $875 billion in funds. SMSF auditors play an essential role in supporting confidence in the SMSF sector, and ASIC will continue to take action where their conduct is inadequate,” Court said.

Between July 1 2023 and September 30 2023, ASIC:

  • disqualified three SMSF auditors;
  • imposed additional conditions on five SMSF auditors; and
  • cancelled the registration of three SMSF auditors.

Carlo Celisano, Eamon Lynch and Brian Townhill were disqualified from being SMSF auditors. Their names have been placed on ASIC’s public banned and disqualified register and are not eligible to reapply for registration.

Anthony Boys, Laurence Carwardine, Gurjeet Singh, Bruno Sternberg and Mark Turner had additional conditions imposed on their SMSF auditor registration.

Conditions are specific to the auditor (see the SMSF Auditor register), and can require undertaking additional professional development, passing the SMSF auditor competency exam, having independent reviews of SMSF audit files or audit tools, templates and methodology, performing independence threat and safeguard evaluation and notifying their professional accounting association of the additional conditions.

Jeffrey Leahy, James Ulrich and Lou Varalla had their SMSF auditor registration cancelled.

All 11 SMSF auditors were referred to ASIC by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Background to the SMSF crackdown

Approved SMSF auditors are registered with ASIC under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act).

ASIC and the ATO work closely together as co-regulators of SMSF auditors. The ATO monitors SMSF auditor conduct and can refer matters to ASIC. ASIC also monitors the SMSF auditor population for non-compliance and is empowered to disqualify, suspend, cancel, or impose additional conditions on the registration of SMSF auditors.

The move followed a crackdown on the SMSF sector where 29 SMSF auditors were cancelled in June. Five of that group had additional conditions imposed in July.

Further information can be found on ASIC's website and in Regulatory Guide 243 Registration of self-managed superannuation fund auditors.

SMSF trustees and members can check whether their auditor is registered, suspended or has conditions imposed on their registration by searching ASIC's SMSF Auditor register.

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