Complaints procedure

Introduction

Pursuant to Article 32 of the Dutch Audit Firms Regulation (Verordening Accountantsorganisaties), it s important that persons outside the accountancy organisation as well as persons employed by or associated with the organisation can address alleged irregularities inside or (partly) outside the accountancy organisation, without jeopardising their legal position. To this end, the following complaints and whistleblower regulation has been established:

1. Definitions

  • Organisation: De Wert accountants & tax advisers (hereinafter referred to as “De Wert”) in Eindhoven.
  • Employees: all those who work on projects of De Wert or who are associated with De Wert in another way.
  • Compliance officer: the compliance officer van De Wert.
  • Partnership: the cooperative partnership of De Wert.
  • Secretariat: the central secretariat of De Wert.
  • Employer: the person or legal entity with whom or with which the employee has an employment contract and who is directly or indirectly partnership member of De Wert.

2. Complaints arising from the work performance

If there is dissatisfaction regarding the performance of our work or about the employees of our organisation, this may give rise to submitting a complaint.

A complaint should be submitted in writing, and should include the name and address of the complainant.

The complainant should, in the first instance, send his or her complaint to the secretariat of De Wert, after which it will forwarded to the responsible accountant or the compliance officer. The responsible accountant shall provide the compliance officer with all relevant documentation. The complainant can also apply in writing directly to the compliance officer, if so desired.

3. Reports arising from alleged irregularities or incidents (whistleblower regulation)

Persons who wish to call attention to an alleged irregularity inside or (partly) outside our organisation, which could have an impact on the quality of our work performance, or who suspect that there is a (threatening) involvement by our organisation and/or (one of) its employees in a criminal act and/or violation of the law which can damage the reputability of our organisation or of the financial markets, can report this to the partnership and the compliance officer.

4. Investigation by compliance officer

Following a complaint or report as referred to under sections 1 and 2 above, the compliance officer shall inform the complainant or notifier (“whistleblower”) in writing within 10 working days, as well as inform the accountant responsible for the work in question, that the complaint or report is being investigated. In case of a complaint or report that concerns a specific individual, the compliance officer will also notify this person. Hereafter, the complainant or notifier, the responsible accountant and the person whom the complaint or report concerns are collectively identified as ‘persons involved’.

The compliance officer investigates the complaint or report and, within this context, is authorised to take note of all project documentation which he deems relevant. The anonymity of the complainant or notifier is safeguarded, provided that this is not in conflict with statutory obligations and provided that it does not jeopardise the legitimate interests of the organisation. In any case, the interests of the complainant or notifier will be treated with the utmost care and respect.

The compliance officer is authorised to seek legal advice if he deems appropriate.

The compliance officer is authorised to hear all persons involved.

The compliance officer documents the investigation in such a way that the file can substantiate the conclusions. He formulates his intended conclusion and provides the persons involved with the opportunity to give their views. Then the compliance officer reports the findings to the partnership with copies to the persons involved.

The report of the compliance officer takes on the character of a recommendation to the partnership. In this recommendation, the compliance officer indicates whether he finds the complaint or report to be justified, whether events have taken place that suggest involvement in criminal acts and/or violation of law by our organisation and/or its employees which damage the reputability of our organisation or the financial markets, and whether there is due cause for the partnership to take measures.

The compliance officer will complete his investigation within a reasonable time period.

5. Role of the partnership

It is the partnership’s responsibility to:

  • Take a decision regarding the complaint or report;
  • Inform the compliance officer, as well as the persons involved and the client involved of this decision and the substantiation thereof, and discuss if necessary.
  • Take appropriate action;
  • Lodge the compulsory reports where applicable under the laws and regulations; the compliance officer is consulted at all times;
  • If necessary, takes measures to amend instructions, training or regulations.

The partnership shall complete the process of the complaint or report within a reasonable time frame. If the partnership plans to deviate from the recommendation of the compliance officer, it will discuss this in advance with the said compliance officer. Any communication or announcements of the partnership for the purposes of this provision will be done in writing.

6. Confidentiality

All employees who are involved in any way with the handling of a complaint or report within the meaning of this procedure are obliged to maintain confidentiality in accordance with the applicable rules within our organisation, including this procedure.

All announcements made in the context of the implementation of this procedure will contain no more information than is necessary for the investigation or for the implementation of this procedure.

The foregoing is without prejudice to the fact that it may be necessary to report the facts leading to the complaint or report to the competent authorities based on the statutory obligation to report such matters.

The report file is stored for at least seven years under the responsibility of the compliance officer. Files are destroyed after the expiration of the storage period.

7. Legal protection

De Wert guarantees that the employee who has lodged a complaint or filed a report with due observance of this procedure will be protected from any potentially negative or damaging effects with regard to his or her position within our organisation, regardless of the outcome of the complaint or report in question.

8. Personal Data Protection Act

The Personal Data Protection Act is applicable to the processing of personal information for the purposes of this procedure. The compliance officer is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act for the purposes of this procedure.

9. Publication of this procedure

This procedure is made public by means of inclusion in the Quality Manual and through publication on the website of De Wert.