Kelowna accountant stripped of CPA designation due to 'flagrant lack of concern for his client'

Accountant stripped of title

In a scathing decision from the regulatory body, a Kelowna accountant has been stripped of his professional designation for, among other things, telling his clients they could simply ignore the CRA.

In a decision issued last month, the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia cancelled Paul Guerette's designation as a Chartered Accountant, a title he has held since 2011. He previously did business in Kelowna as Trident CPA, a company he established in 2016.

At a hearing held on Feb. 12, the three-person panel of the CPABC reviewed affidavits from five people who had formally complained about Guerette's conduct as an accountant.

The claims against Guerette by his former clients included allegations that he failed to prepare and file statements and tax returns despite telling his clients he had, and didn't respond to his clients or cooperate with other accountants who took over his clients' matters.

“[Guerette's] failure to comply with essential terms of his professional engagement was severely aggravated by deliberately blocking his clients and their successor accountants from access to client information, which [Guerette] maintained on a computer platform that he controlled,” the panel wrote in its decision.

“His refusal to provide clients with access to their data and to facilitate a transfer of their data to successor accountants was based on fictitious claims of unpaid invoices which had never been rendered."

The panel says Guerette's clients suffered significant “losses, penalties, and hardship” as a result of his “careless tax advice,” but Guerette “recklessly dismissed them by telling his clients that they can simply ignore the CRA.”

At a hearing last September, Guerette agreed to a resolution agreement in principle in the proceedings, but he never completed the agreement. In fact, that September hearing was the last time the CPABC heard from him. He did not attend the Feb. 12 hearing that resulted in the stripping of his professional designation.

In addition to losing his professional designation, the CPABC ordered Guerette pay more than $108,000 for the cost of the disciplinary proceedings.

“His consistent pattern of misconduct, and his flagrant lack of concern for his clients, was damaging to them and damaging to the reputation of the profession,” the panel wrote in its decision.

“His breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct without regard to the consequences of his behaviour reflected contempt for the profession, contempt for CPABC, and contempt for his professional designation. And there are no extenuating or exculpatory circumstances to ameliorate his behaviour.

“Whether looked at individually or cumulatively, the multiple and continuous examples of his professional misconduct showed that he was demonstrably ungovernable, and unfit to be a member of the profession.”

According to September 2017 post on the CPA BC Okanagan Chapter's Facebook page, Guerette previously served as the chapter's Vice Chair.

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