IFAC confirms role of accountants in fighting corruption in letter to pope

21 Nov 16

Accountants have and will continue to play a critical role in combating fraud and corruption around the world, the chief of the International Federation of Accountants has told the pope.

In an open letter published last week, IFAC’s Olivia Kirtley responded to remarks made by Pope Francis in 2014, calling on those in professions like accountancy to ensure they are a positive force in the fight against fraud and corruption.

“We received – and appreciated – your challenge for the accountancy profession to do more,” she wrote. “Serving the public interest is at the very heart of IFAC’s mission – and combating fraud and corruption is clearly a public interest issue where our profession can provide valuable skills and expertise.”

Kirtley outlined some of the measures IFAC has taken to step up its role in combating “both the opportunity and the cost” of fraud and corruption.

She highlighted IFAC’s work to build professional accountancy capacity in developing countries, noting that a strong profession within nations is essential to facilitating transparency, accountability, trust and sustainable growth.

The institute has also made “significant progress” in greater participation in and advocacy for stronger governance, she added, referencing IFAC’s recent call to action to the G20 and work with the OECD on its governance code.

“The third key area in which our efforts have intensified is in our forceful campaigning for governments to develop more transparent and complete information, including use of International Public Sector Accounting Standards,” she continued.

IFAC has been working to encourage and facilitate the adoption of accrual-based accounting and budgeting and IPSAS, for example.

While Kirtley pledged to “continue to work diligently on this critical effort”, she also noted that “it is not possible to win this battle alone”.

She appealed to Pope Francis, who has also supported the adoption of IPSAS, to join IFAC in calling for more rigorous and transparent accounting by governments worldwide, as well as coordinated, international action to implement stronger whistleblower protections for all citizens.

Pope Francis’ voice could be “particularly impactful” in advocating for these two reforms especially, she said.

“As you said, everyone must play a positive, constructive role. There is a real need to join forces with other organisations to both make meaningful progress and yield faster results.

“Combating this problem will require intense, coordinated action across all civil society institutions: public, private, not-for-profit, and – indeed – spiritual,” Kirtley concluded. 

  • Emma Rumney

    Emma is a reporter at Cooking Recipes International. She also writes for in the UK.

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