A check is made to determine whether the person being investigated is a member of the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS) and/or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). If they are not a member of either ICPAS or AICPA, the committee cannot take action. If they are not a member of the ICPAS but are a member of the AICPA, the complaint is forwarded to the AICPA.
If the person is a member of the Society, the complaint is reviewed to see if the alleged unethical acts would, if found to be true, be a potential violation of the Ethics Code. If there could be a potential violation of the ethics code, a committee member is assigned as an investigator.
At this stage, the complainant is notified that:
- The person complained about is not a member of either the Society or the AICPA, but that they may wish to contact the Director, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, about the matter. Read more
- The person complained about is not a member of the Society but is a member of the AICPA, and the complaint has been forwarded to them
- The acts complained about, if true, would not be a violation of the Ethics Code
- The matter is being investigated and the complainant will be notified when the investigation is completed.
The investigator makes his/her investigation. The name of the complainant is not given to the person being investigated. In some cases, the very nature of the complaint may reveal who the complainant is. As an example, in the case of an alleged unethical newspaper advertisement, there is no need to reveal the name of the complainant. In the case of unethically withholding a client's records, it is usually obvious who the complainant must be.
The investigator files a written report on his/her findings with the Ethics Committee. The committee discusses the report, questions the investigator and then votes to either:
Close the case with a finding that there was no violation of the Ethics Code.
Find that there was a violation of the Ethics Code and:
- Issue a letter of required corrective action to the member. Usually the corrective action requires the member to take certain CPE courses.
- Refer the matter to the trial board for a hearing. A settlement agreement may be entered into in lieu of a trial board proceeding.
If the person is a member of both the Society and the AICPA, any action taken is applicable to both organizations. In these cases, the Ethics Committees of the Society and the AICPA must agree on the content of a letter of required corrective action, forwarding the matter to the trial board or the offer of a settlement agreement.
Findings of no violations or letters of required corrective action are not publicized. A conviction by a trial board or a settlement agreement affecting membership, such as a suspension or expulsion, is reported online at: ICPAS - Resolutions of Ethics Cases and/or the AICPA's online publication.