Construction watchdog’s next target
ACCOUNTANTS who provide inaccurate information to the regulator to help keep struggling builders afloat are in the sights of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.
QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett has put accountants on notice as the commission enforces new minimum financial requirement laws brought in by the Queensland Government in January.
"Accountants need to be aware that if their client enters financial difficulty, we will also be looking closely at their own activities," Mr Bassett said.
"If accountants are knowingly or unknowingly providing incorrect information, we have forensic accountants and experienced investigators who will uncover any attempt to do so, and the QBCC will be taking action."
Two accountants are currently listed as not acceptable to provide financial reports to the QBCC.
Mr Bassett said the QBCC had taken formal action against an accountant for "supplying misleading financial reports" for an Ipswich construction company just days before it went into liquidation.
"On January 15, 2019, the QBCC received a report signed off by the accountant," he said.
"Our officers reviewed this report and deemed certain information was either incorrect or inappropriate for our reporting purposes.
"We suspected the company did not meet our required standards of financial health.
"On January 17 the QBCC formally suspended the licence of TP Enterprises Aotearoa Pty Ltd (trading as G.J. Gardner Homes Ipswich) and only six days later, the company went into liquidation."
Mr Bassett said QBCC subsequently undertook a forensic investigation and ruled the account involved was "no longer an acceptable independent accountant".
"He can longer provide financial information to the regulator in relation to any licensed builder in Queensland indefinitely," he said.
"In this case, we are also considering our options for further action under section 53B of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act."
Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said the move to target accountants doing the wrong thing was the latest salvo in the war against dodgy builders.
"The message from Labor at all levels to everyone involved in the building sector is this: the industry regulator is fully prepared to be a tough cop on the beat," he said.
"They now have a direct line of sight to your true financial health.
"If you do the wrong thing, they have the power to catch you.
"They can't watch every transaction or be on every site, but they will track you down and you will be held to account. You can no longer get away with running under the radar."
It comes amid a News Queensland 'back our subbies' campaign that revealed more than 50 building companies had collapsed since 2013 leaving more than 7000 subbies unpaid and owed more than $500 million.