Last January, an investigation by Irish Independent’s Emmet Oliver highlighed the problem of bogus auditors, where individuals were illegally signing audit reports and certifying company accounts – although these people were neither qualified, regulated nor insured to do so.
The Companies Registration Office (CRO) have now moved to close the loophole that allowed this problem to arise.
From 1 April next, a new format of the CRO Form B1 annual return will be introduced. This will require the auditor’s official Auditor Registration Number (ARN) to be quoted on all such returns when audited accounts are being filed with the annual return.
This new requirement will not affect the vast majority of Irish SME companies, who can avail of audit exemption. Where a company claims the exemption, they will not have to enter an ARN on their annual return.
However it will affect all companies which either forfeit their annual exemption, (e.g. by filing late returns), or for which an annual audit is manatory.
The official Public Register of Auditors is now online. This lists each audit firm’s ARN, together with contact details etc.