Professional Accountant Fined for Unprofessional Conduct

By: Joel Fairbrother

Published: 4 April 2022

Nguyen (Re), 2021 ABCPA 14 is a case recently published by the Complaints Inquiry Committee of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta.  The CPA Complaints Committee found the member – a Chartered Professional Accountant – guilty of several different instances of unprofessional conduct, and levied fines and investigation costs against the member totaling $7,200.

This case illustrates that professionals like Accountants are highly regulated, and it illustrates the nature of professional regulation generally.


Below are the pertinent facts found by the CPA Complaints Committee:

  • The accountant has been a CPA since 2015
  • The accountant operated a website called
  • The accountant himself was not registered as a Public Accounting Firm. However, his professional corporation was registered as a PAF
  • Among services advertised on the website were accounting services
  • The website did not identify the accountant’s professional corporation, or any other public accounting firm registered with CPA Alberta, as the entity through which such accounting services would be provided
  • The accountant owned a property management company, and its website advertised accounting services. However, this property management company was not a registered PAF
  • The accountant was on a condo board
  • The accountant’s property management company ended up getting the contract to provide accounting services to the condo, and in the process refused to provide financial statements when requested, and disclosed the contact information of another client of the condo management company

Analysis / Conclusion

The allegations against the accountant, which were considered proven by the CPA Complaints Committee, were as follows:

  1. He failed to carry out the professional services he was engaged to perform through his property management company with integrity and due care when he refused to provide financial statements upon request
  2. He conducted aspects of a public accounting practice through an entity that was not properly registered with CPA Alberta to perform those services
  3. He advertised on his website “Taxanswers” that he would provide professional services that required registration as a professional accounting firm, without reference to any entity that was properly registered to provide those through CPA Alberta
  4. He disclosed the confidential information of another client without authority to do so.

The Accountant admitted to unprofessional conduct.  He and the CPA Complaints Committee were able to come to an agreement on what his sanction (punishment) should be.  The punishment included:

  • A written reprimand (the decision)
  • Fines for each instance of unprofessional conduct, totaling $4,700, and
  • Payment of $2,500 of the costs of the investigation

My Take

I have personally represented professionals before disciplinary tribunals for unprofessional misconduct numerous times.  My take on this case was that the accountant’s conduct looks really bad, but it seems likely it was just some poor judgment and unintentional violation of rules.  My strong suspicion is that he did not fully understand his registration requirements and otherwise made some poor judgment calls as to what his obligations to his clients were.

That is not to say sanction was not proper or required.  Regulated professionals like accountants are held to a high standard of competence and conduct, and the protection of the public interest is paramount.

I would also point out that this accountant admitted to his unprofessional conduct and agreed to be punished. Given what was alleged, and that most of it was easily provable by the CPA Complaints Committee, his cooperation was likely a wise decision.  If he did not cooperate, the hearing would have been expensive, he likely would have lost (on these facts) and then they likely would have made him pay that cost – which could very easily be $5,000 – $15,000 beyond what he did end up paying.

CPA Alberta publishes cases like Nguyen (re), called “reportable disciplinary outcomes”, here.

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