AJ Robbins CPA Fined by PCAOB for Audit Misconduct
In a recent announcement, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has revealed that AJ Robbins CPA, LLC and its principal, Allan Jeffrie Robbins, CPA, are facing disciplinary actions for their involvement in various violations of PCAOB rules and standards. The sanctions come as a result of their failure to uphold essential professional responsibilities, signaling the PCAOB's commitment to safeguarding investor interests.
The violations identified by the PCAOB include:
- Lack of Engagement Quality Review: The Firm, AJ Robbins CPA, issued multiple audit reports and interim review engagements between 2016 and 2018 without obtaining necessary concurring approval for issuance from an engagement quality reviewer. This oversight undermines the thoroughness and quality assurance of the audits and reviews.
- Audit Negligence: During 2018, the Firm failed to conduct two issuer audits with due professional care and skepticism, pointing to shortcomings in their execution of audit procedures.
- Non-Cooperation with PCAOB Inspection: In 2018, the Firm and Robbins failed to cooperate with a PCAOB inspection. They were found to have improperly altered audit documentation and provided misrepresentations to the PCAOB's inspections staff.
- Independence Violation: The Firm failed to maintain independence from an issuer client, contravening SEC and PCAOB rules. This breach resulted from a business relationship between the Firm and an officer and director of the issuer client.
The PCAOB's Chair, Erica Y. Williams, emphasized the significance of professional skepticism, independence, and cooperation in upholding the integrity of audits. She noted that when auditors fail to fulfill these responsibilities, the PCAOB will take necessary action to address the issues.
The disciplinary order includes several penalties:
- Revocation of Registration: The Firm's registration is permanently revoked, preventing it from conducting audits of public companies.
- Bar from Association: Allan Jeffrie Robbins is permanently barred from associating with any registered public accounting firm.
- Civil Monetary Penalty: A civil monetary penalty of $150,000 is imposed on both the Firm and Allan Jeffrie Robbins, jointly and severally.
The PCAOB's Director of the Division of Enforcement and Investigations, Robert E. Rice, emphasized that serious misconduct carries substantial consequences. In this case, the repercussions include significant civil money penalties and permanent bars and revocations.
The PCAOB's enforcement staff led the investigation and litigation, with Joshua M. Cutler heading both efforts. The case signifies the PCAOB's commitment to ensuring that audit professionals uphold their responsibilities with the utmost diligence and professionalism.
The sanctions, detailed in the Initial Decision by the PCAOB Hearing Officer, were finalized on June 21, 2023. With no appeals filed and no review initiated by the Board or the SEC, the sanctions became effective on August 1, 2023. The PCAOB's actions underscore the importance of maintaining the highest standards in the field of auditing.