A woman who complained to the professional body for chartered accountants about two of its members has been left angry and frustrated over the process she believes is secretive and biased in favour of its members.
But a spokeswoman for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) said all complaints were fully investigated, its process was independent and serious complaints were held in a public forum.
Wellington business owner Elizabeth Gibbs lodged a complaint last year about two accountants who work for a firm she dealt with over selling her share of a hair salon business.
The complaint related to a conflict of interest after the accountants carried out a valuation of the company while also acting on behalf of her business partner to negotiate the sale of the shares.
The complaint went to CAANZ's professional conduct committee on February 4 and Gibbs says the two accountants both received private sanctions after admitting breaches of its code of conduct.
But more than six months later Gibbs is still waiting for the minutes of the hearing to be sent to her.
She was promised the minutes after she claims she was excluded from parts of the hearing but despite multiple requests they have never been sent.
Gibbs said going through the complaint process had been onerous.
"It was quite a process to go through."
It had also been handled under a "code of silence" which Gibbs questioned.
"It is done under a cloak of secrecy. That doesn't seem right to me."
"The accountants go through this process, issue whatever decision they make and life goes on as normal."
Gibbs said accountants played a very important part in New Zealand small business and needed to be trustworthy.
"These accountants caused me to lose a lot of money and then the legal costs to finally resolve the conflict they had created through mediation.
"The institute complaints process did not even request these accountants reimburse their fees. The whole process is completely swayed to the protection of the members."
But the CAANZ spokeswoman said its professional conduct committee was made of up senior members of the profession from around the country and from different accounting disciplines as well as lay members.
She said the PCC's roles was to investigate complaints and determine whether they warranted referral to the Disciplinary Tribunal which was a more formal proceeding which was open to the public.
"[PCC] Hearings are not open to the public and the PCC can only order publication of a members' name and location if it determines that the complaint is prima facie serious enough to warrant referral to the Disciplinary Tribunal."
The CAANZ spokeswoman said the woman's complaint was not referred on to the tribunal.
She said the professional conduct committee process involved meeting both the member and the complainant.
"Both parties are given the opportunity to hear the discussion and make any comments or submissions for consideration by the committee. The committee deliberates and makes a decision in private, therefore at the conclusion of its discussion with the parties, both the member and the complainant are asked to leave the room.
"Once the committee has made a decision, the parties are brought back into the room and the decision is delivered orally."
The spokeswoman said this was standard practice and had occurred in the Gibbs complaint case.
As for not sending the minutes the spokeswoman said "regrettably" there had been a delay which was due to the current caseload and the need to prioritise more serious cases.
"We have apologised to the complainant."
She did not give a timeframe on when the minutes would be sent to the woman.