Board's Investigation Process

In carrying out its mission "to promote dependable, accessible financial information" the Board is responsible for investigating complaints against CPAs, CPA-Inactive certificateholders, and CPA firms. Complaints can originate from clients, other CPAs, Federal or State regulators, or from Board staff or committee review. Complaints result from allegations of technical errors, or ethical or legal violations.

The Board receives approximately 90 to 150 complaints a year.

The majority of investigations are conducted by the Board's Enforcement Division. Investigations requiring specialized knowledge will be assigned to a technical consultant under contract with the Board. Upon completion of the investigation, the Executive Director and a Consulting Board Member review the evidence and the merits of the case and make a determination as to whether sanctioning is necessary for resolution. Sanctions, or corrective action, may include: restitution, reprimand, fine, cost-recovery, required CPE, practice monitoring, and license suspension or revocation.

If sanctions are deemed appropriate, a potential resolution of the complaint is proposed in writing to the CPA, CPA-Inactive certificateholder, or CPA firm in the form of a "stipulation and agreed order," or a "respondent contract," for first-time administrative violations. If the CPA, CPA-Inactive certificateholder, or CPA firm concurs, the CPA, CPA-Inactive certificateholder, or CPA firm signs the order or contract agreeing to the sanctions. If the CPA , CPA-Inactive certificateholder, or CPA firm disagrees, the Executive Director will issue a statement of charges against the CPA, CPA-Inactive certificateholder, or CPA firm and provide the CPA, CPA-Inactive certificateholder, or CPA firm with the opportunity to present their side of the case through an administrative hearing. The Board will review the merits of the case and issue a written order containing the Board's findings and, if deemed appropriate, sanctions. The CPA, CPA-Inactive certificateholder, or CPA firm has 30 days to appeal the Board's order to the Superior Court.

For additional information, see Chapter 18.04 RCW which defines the powers and duties of the Board.