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Australia: Head of audit at William Buck Victoria pays $20,625 penalty for audit rotation issues

April 5, 2024

Nicholas Benbow, director of William Buck Audit (Vic) Pty Ltd, has paid $20,625 to comply with 3 infringement notices issued by ASIC. This is the first time ASIC has issued an infringement notice under the Corporations Act for an alleged breach of audit rotation issues.

The infringement notices were issued because ASIC has reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Benbow failed to conduct each of the 3 listed company reviews in accordance with the auditing standards. The auditing standards require auditors to comply with important requirements pertaining to independence.

ASIC alleges Mr Benbow played a significant role as the lead auditor in the half-year reviews of 3 listed companies in March 2023, when Mr Benbow had already performed the role for each listed company audit for 5 successive years.

ASIC Commissioner Kate O’Rourke said, ‘The conduct of gatekeepers, including auditors, was announced by Deputy Chair Sarah Court in late 2023 as an area of focus for enforcement in 2024.’

‘Independence is one of the cornerstones of the audit process. Specific audit rotation requirements were introduced 20 years ago to strengthen independence in listed company audits, and the requirements are well known in the industry.’

Payment of an infringement notice is not an admission of guilt or liability.

The specific reasons for ASIC’s concerns are set out in the infringement notices on the Infringement Notices Register.

Mr Benbow reported the alleged breaches to ASIC under his requirement in section 311 of the Corporations Act to do so. Regulatory Guide 187 Auditor rotation outlines that we consider that an auditor must notify us of the auditor’s own contraventions of the Corporations Act, including those relating to a breach of the 5-year audit rotation requirement for listed companies.

[Australian Securities & Investments Commission]

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