By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The country’s largest accountancy body, which is currently probing the embattled former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, has decided on a wide-ranging reform of its investigation and disciplinary procedures. The 1,800 member Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland will in future hold hearings in public, publish findings and details of suspensions and exclusions and increased fines from the current £1,000 limit to £10,000.
It will also bring in recovery of costs in disciplinary hearings and major changes in dealing with public interest cases such as legal counsel to prosecute them.
At the moment former Judge John Blayney is heading a probe into the behavior and Haughey as part of an inquiry which the Institute estimated could cost £250,000.
The 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 former supermarket tycoon Ben Dunne.
Haughey, 72, is still a member of the Institute and may be called to appear before the inquiry but 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. Leo O’Donnell former Institute president said the new move will lead to a modern, open self-regulatory body. "The current private nature of disciplinary hearings creates a perception of a self-protective organization. This is a false perception. Members would wish to show that there is nothing to hide," he told the annual conference in Galway.