8 Ways CPAs Violate the AICPA's Ethics Requirements

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What do these former CPAs have in common? 

  • Enron Controller Richard Causey
  • HealthSouth CFOs Aaron Beam and Weston Smith
  • WorldCom Director of General Accounting Buford Yates and Director of Management Reporting Betty Vinson
  • Michigan Catholic School Controller Dan Korson
  • PharMor CFO Patrick Finn

They all committed unethical acts. And went to prison. New ethics rules1 effective November 30, 2011, April 30 and August 31, 2012 put CPAs at risk for actions that are now strictly prohibited. This article explores a few such activities. But, first, why do CPAs violate the Code of Professional Conduct? Here are five common reasons: 1. Lack of objectivity: "We don't see things as they are; we see them as we want them to be."2 None of us are objective about ourselves or our work. We won't admit that our own behaviors violate the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct. 

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About Gary Zeune

About Gary Zeune

Zeune is a nationally recognized speaker on fraud and performance. More than 20,000 professionals have attended his classes since 1975. His clients include FBI, US Attorney, bar and CPA associations, international accounting firms, Institute of Internal Auditors, hospitals and health care companies Institute of Mass Retailers Associations, Spring Manufacturers Institute, The SEC Institute, National Association of Securities Dealers, American Society for Industrial Security, Treasury Management Association, Grant Thornton, Quanex Corporation, National City Bank, among others.


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By TaxPaperLess
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

A CPA I was looking to begin working with just threatened to shred my tax documents because I decided not to work with him. Is he in violation of the Code of Ethics?

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By John
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

If a CPA who has Power of Attorney for a company as Ceo/Chairman and emails an Independent Contractor acting as COO of the company that he will deal with the owners son over the contract term and then calls the IC and says "Trust me, I agree to your contract, I just don't want to deal with the son", and the IC adheres to all the terms of the agreement and it renews the following year, and then the CPA comes back 3 months into the new year and says you are terminated and we do not agree to the severance payment because no document was executed, is that an ethics violation?
If this same attorney has Power of Attorney and also provides Review financial statements is that an ethics violation?
thank you

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By Mosiah
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

I emailed the CPA firm that does accounting for the company work for. The question was a personal one sent from my personal email. The CPA copied the CEO of the company in the response causing the CEO to get angry assuming that I was asking info about the company, but it was a personal question and has now put my job at risk. Did the CPA violate confidentiality?

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