By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – The cost of a special inquiry into embattled former Taoiseach Charles Haughey by his colleagues in the country’s oldest and largest body of accountants will be _250,000, according to the annual report of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland this week.
The 1,800-member Institute is self-regulating and holds its inquiries in private, but the report indicates that in the future, hearings may be opened to the public.
Former High Court Judge John Blayney is heading the inquiry, which has been sitting since last September.
The ICAI inquiry is examining the role of Haughey and four other accountants who appeared before the Judge Brian McCracken payments-to-politicians inquiry, which found the former taoiseach had received _1.3 million from the business tycoon Ben Dunne.
Haughey, who is 72, is still a member of the Institute and may be called to appear before the inquiry, though it has no powers compel him to attend.
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Evidence of alleged evasion of tax and exchange controls with the aid of accountants revealed in the McCracken report led to the inquiry.
The results of their inquiry will be published and penalties could range from members being thrown out and practicing rights being withdrawn to an admonishment.
ICAI President Tom Griffin said in the annual report that the Institute is reviewing its disciplinary procedures to make them more open and accountable.
He said that public expectations for quality and integrity from accountants was never higher and they needed to meet these expectations in a “positive and open way.”
“The public now expects openness and transparency in matters of public concern,” Griffin said. “Governments internationally have responded to this expectation by enacting Freedom of Information legislation, which opens State files to public scrutiny.
“Similar expectations are being placed on professions which have been granted statutory or other public privileges.”