Auditor is struck off after $30m lender fails

A STANTHORPE-based auditor has been struck off after issuing misleading advice into the recent collapse of a major national property lender.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced it had cancelled the registration of Brian Patrick Kingston - of Bapaume on the Granite Belt - after the collapse of $30 million property lender Wickham Securities Limited.

Brisbane-based Wickham Securities was owned by Queensland's Sherwin Financial, which is embroiled in a $60m scandal involving 390 clients who sought advice from the firm on self-managed super funds, many of them employees with redundancy money to invest.

An ASIC spokesman said under an enforceable undertaking (EU) Mr Kingston had agreed to never reapply for registration or perform any duties or functions of an auditor.

"Auditors are important gatekeepers - investors rely on what auditors do and naturally expect their work to be top quality," ASIC Commissioner John Price said.

"Mr Kingston clearly failed.

"ASIC will not tolerate inferior work and is determined to lift standards within the auditing profession."

Mr Price said Wickham Securities Limited collapsed on December 21 last year.

"On September 27 Mr Kingston issued an unqualified audit opinion on the financial report of Wickham Securities Limited for the year ended 30 June 2012," he said.

"ASIC formed the view that, in respect of the audit, Mr Kingston failed to carry out or perform adequately and properly the duties of an auditor.

"In particular, ASIC was concerned the audit was not conducted in accordance with the Australian Auditing Standards."

Mr Price pointed to a lack of sufficient audit evidence to support "material financial balances" contained in the 2012 financial report on Wickham Securities.

He also said Mr Kingston had failed to display an adequate level of professional scepticism in auditing the "recoverability" of loan assets and "assessing going concern".

"Key audit planning, execution and completion procedures were not performed or documented by Mr Kingston," Mr Price said.

"ASIC's investigation into the collapse of Wickham Securities and related entities continues."

National media reported earlier this year that forensic accountants searching through the records of Wickham Securities had uncovered what appeared to be a "bogus" $10.8 million cashflow statement along with other "apparent discrepancies and irregularities".

It was also reported that Mr Kingston had advised he was unable to provide the accountants with requested records as his laptop computer had been in for repairs.

Mr Kingston was unable to be contacted for comment yesterday.



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