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Chapter 02 - Public Accountancy

Chapter 02 - Public Accountancy

31.0201 Short title.


This chapter may be cited as the “Public Accountancy Law of 1978”.

31.0202 Purpose.


It is the policy of this Territory, and the purpose of this chapter to promote the dependability of information which is used for guidance in financial transactions or for accounting for or assessing the status or performance of commercial and noncommercial enterprises, whether public or private. The public interest requires that persons attesting as experts in accountancy to the reliability or fairness of presentation of such information be qualified in fact to do so; that a public authority competent to prescribe and assess the qualifications of public accountants be established and continued; and that the attestation of financial information by persons professing special knowledge in accountancy be reserved to persons who demonstrate their ability and fitness to observe and apply the standards of the accounting profession.

31.0203 Definitions.


When used in this chapter:

(a) “Board” means the Territorial Board of Public Accountancy established in 31.0204.

(b) “State” includes any State, Territory, or Insular Possession of the United States, and the District of Columbia.

31.0204 Board-Members.


There is a Board of Public Accountancy to be known as the Territorial Board of Public Accountancy, which consists of 3 members appointed by the Governor. All members of the Board must be citizens or nationals of the United States and residents of this territory. Two members thereof shall be Certified Public Accountants in active practice holding current certificates as such and current permits to practice public accountancy issued under this chapter. The remaining member shall be a public accountant in active practice holding current registration as such and current permits to practice public accountancy under this chapter.

31.0205 Board-Removal.


The Governor shall remove or suspend any member of the Board for cause including any member thereof:

(1) who ceases to engage in active practice as a Certified Public Accountant or as a public accountant, as the case may be; or

(2) whose certificate of Certified Public Accountant or registration of public accountant, as the case may be, or whose permit to practice public accountancy

(A) has been cancelled, revoked or suspended;

(B) has expired without renewal; or

(C) has otherwise become invalid.

31.0206 Board-Organization.


The Board shall elect annually a chairman and a secretary-treasurer from its members. The Board shall conduct its meetings and keep records of its proceedings.

31.0207 Board-Compensation and expenses.


Members of the Board of Accountants may not receive any compensation for performance of the duties imposed upon them by this chapter.

31.0208 Board-Powers.


The Board may:

(1) conduct investigations and hearings, either upon complaint or on its own motion on any matter involving the conduct of Certified Public Accountants or public accountants or the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter; and

(2) adopt, amend, and repeal rules with the approval of the Governor and issue decisions, orders, and declaratory rulings for the orderly conduct of its affairs and for the administration of this chapter including but not limited to rules governing professional qualifications, continuing education and professional conduct, and the affiliations of individuals, partnerships, and corporations, for the practice of public accountancy, as it deems appropriate to establish and maintain high standards of competence and integrity in the practice of public accountancy.

31.0209 Board-Annual report.


The Board shall prepare and present an annual report to the Governor which shall include a statement of the Board’s activities and its receipts and expenditures during the preceding year together with such recommendations as the Board shall determine to be appropriate.

31.0210 Certificate-CPA-Issuance.


(a) A Certificate of “Certified Public Accountant”, upon application to the Board, must be issued to a person:

(1) who has attained 18 years of age, or more;

(2) who is of good moral character; and

(3) who meets the educational and examination requirements provided in 31.0211 through 31.02l6.

(b) The Board shall maintain a list of all persons to whom those certificates are issued. The certificates are effective for a period not exceeding 2 years and shall be renewable biennially upon application to the Board.

31.0211 Certificate-Educational requirements.


A person applying for a certificate of certified public accountant:

(1) before 1 January 1979, shall be required to have obtained a baccalaureate degree conferred by a college or university recognized by the Board; and

(2) after 31 December 1988, shall be required to have obtained a baccalaureate degree con-ferred by a college or university recognized by the Board and shall be required to have complet-ed not less than 30 semester hours of additional study at such a college or university, the edu-cational program to have included an accounting concentration and those related subjects as the Board shall determine to be appropriate.

31.0212 Certificate-Exemption from educational requirements.


A person who holds and has continued to hold a valid Certificate of Certified Public Accountant of another state for a period of not less than 10 years preceding the date of his application under 31.0210, and who is and continues to be in the active practice of public accountant in that other state for a period of not less than 5 years preceding the date of his application under 31.0210, if, upon examination of the credentials of that person, the Board is satisfied that he is as well qualified for the practice of public accountancy as if he met the applicable educational requirements specified in 31.0211 and any continuing education requirements established by regulation of the Board, is, upon application to the Board, exempt from the educational requirements specified in 31.0211 and any continuing education requirements established by regulation of the Board.

31.0213 Certificate-Examination requirements.


A person applying for a Certificate of Certified Public Accountant is required to have satisfactorily completed an examination in accounting, auditing, and other related subjects as the Board determines to be appropriate. The examination shall be held by the Board and shall take place as often as the Board determines to be desirable, but not less frequently than once each year.

31.0214 Certificate-Admission to examination.


(a) A person shall, upon application to the Board, be admitted to the examination who:

(1) has met the applicable educational requirements prescribed in 31.0211; or

(2) expects to meet the educational requirements within 120 days following the examination prescribed in 31.0213; or

(3) is exempted from the educational requirements by 31.0212.

(b) In the case of an applicant admitted to the examination on the expectation that he will complete the educational requirements within 120 days, no Certificate of Certified Public Accountant may be issued, and no credit for the examination or any part of it may be given, un-less the educational requirement is, in fact, completed within that time or within the time as the Board determines to be appropriate.

31.0215 Certificate-Reexamination.


The Board may by rule prescribe the terms and conditions under which an applicant who has taken the examination described in 31.0213, but who has not satisfactorily completed that examination, may be given credit for any part thereof he has satisfactorily completed. The Board may also provide by regulation for a reasonable waiting period of an applicant to apply to reexamination.

31.0216 Certificate-Exemption from examination requirements.


A person shall, upon application to the Board, be exempt from the examination requirements specified in 31.0213, who is the holder of:

(1) a valid certificate of certified public accountant issued under the laws of another state; or

(2) a valid certificate, license, or degree in a foreign country determined by the Board to be:

(A) a recognized qualification for the practice of public accountancy in that other country;

(B) comparable to a certificate of certified public accountant of this Territory; and

(C) issued to that person on the basis of an examination comparable to the examination described in 31.0213.

31.0217 Certificate of public accountant- Issuance.


A person shall be issued a Certificate of Public Accountant who:

(1) has attained 18 years of age, or more;

(2) is of good moral character; and

(3) meets other requirements as the Board may from time to time prescribe by rule.

31.0218 Existing registrations.


A person who, on 1 January 1978, holds registration of public accountant under the laws of this territory theretofore existing; or who holds a valid Certificate of Certified Public Accountant issued under the laws of another state; and who holds a registration to practice public accountancy under the laws of this territory theretofore existing, may not be required to register again under this chapter, but shall otherwise be subject to all the provisions of this chapter. Such previous registration must, for all purposes, be considered registration under this chapter and subject to the provisions of this chapter.

31.0219 Permits to practice.


(1) A person must, upon application to the Board, be issued a permit to practice public accountancy in this Territory, who:

(A) is holding a current Certificate of Certified Public Accountant or a current registration as a public accountant;

(B) has had at least 1 year’s experience in any state of the United States with a person or firm in the practice of public accounting; and

(C) has complied with continuing education requirements established by regulation of the Board.

(2) The experience requirement set forth in subparagraph (1) (B) does not apply after 31 December 1978, or to any person who has met the educational requirements set forth in 31.0210 through 31.0216.

(3) The permit to practice shall be effective for a period not exceeding 2 years.

(1) A person shall, upon application to the Board, be issued a temporary practice permit who:

(A) has attained 18 years of age, or more;

(B) is of good moral character;

(C) holds a valid Certificate of Certified Public Accountant or a valid registration as a public ac-countant issued under the laws of another state, or who holds a valid certificate, license, or degree of a foreign country determined by the Board to be a recognized qualification for the practice of public accountancy in that country; and

(D) incidental to his practice in that other state, or country, desires to practice public accountancy in this Territory on a temporary basis.

(2) The permit shall be effective for a period not exceeding 3 months, and shall specify the nature and extent of the practice so permitted.

31.0220 Fees.


(a) An applicant for admission to the examination described in 31.0213 shall pay a fee with the application for admission in the amount as the Board shall prescribe by rule. The Board may also prescribe by rule the terms and conditions upon which an applicant who is unable to attend the examination may receive a credit in the amount of the fee paid toward a subsequent examination.

(b) An applicant for the issuance of a Certificate of Certified Public Accountant under 31.0210 or a Certificate of Public Accountant under 31.0217 shall pay a fee with the application in the amount as the Board shall prescribe by rule.

(c) An applicant for the renewal of a current Certificate of Certified Public Accountant under 31.0210 or for the renewal of a registration of public accountant under 31.0217 shall pay a fee of $30 biennially in each odd-numbered year on or before 31 December. An applicant for the renewal of a Certificate of Certified Public Accountant or for the renewal of a registration of public accountant which is not current under the provisions of this chapter shall pay a fee with the application for renewal in an amount equal to twice the amount of the fees which the applicant would have paid had he timely renewed the certificate or registration since the date it was last current.

(d) An applicant for the issuance of a biennial permit to practice under 31.0210 or 31.0217 who is in the practice of public accountancy in his own name as a sole proprietor, or as a partner of a partnership in the practice of public accountancy, or as a shareholder of a corporation in the practice of public accountancy, shall pay a fee with the application in the amount of $30. All other applicants for the issuance of a biennial permit to practice shall pay a fee of $10.

(e) An applicant for the issuance of a temporary permit to practice under subsection (b) of 31.0219 shall pay a fee with the application in the amount of $30.

31.0221 Disciplinary action-Reinstatement.


(a) The Board may:

(1) cancel, revoke, suspend for a period not exceeding 2 years, or refuse to renew any Certificate of Certified Public Accountant, registration of public accountant or permit to practice issued under this chapter; or it may

(2) censure a person holding any such certificate, registration or permit, for any 1 or a com-bination of the following causes:

(A) dishonesty, deceit, or fraud in obtaining any certificate, registration, or permit to practice issued under the provisions of this chapter;

(B) dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or gross negligence in the practice of public accountancy;

(C) violation of any of the provisions of 31.0222 through 31.0224 or of any rule of the Board relating to professional conduct.

(b) Upon application of any person against whom disciplinary action has been taken under the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the Board may reinstate the person and reissue any certificate, registration, or permit to practice which was affected by the disciplinary action.

31.0222 Prohibited use of titles.


(a) No person may assume or use the title or designation “Certified Public Accountant” or the abbreviation “CPA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, sign, card, or device likely to be confused with “Certified Public Accountant” or “CPA” or tending to indicate that the person is a Certified Public Accountant unless the person holds a current Certificate of Certified Public Accountant issued under this chapter and a current permit to practice as such issued under this chapter.

(b) No partnership or corporation may assume or use the title or designation “Certified Public Accountant” or the abbreviation “CPA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviation, sign, card, or device likely to be confused with “Certified Public Accountant” or “CPA” or tending to indicate that the partnership or corporation is composed of Certified Public Accountants unless each of the partners of the partnership who are in the practice of public accountancy in this territory or each of the shareholders of the corporation who are in the practice of public accountancy in this territory holds a current Certificate of Certified Public Accountant issued under this chapter and a current permit to practice as such issued under this chapter.

(c) No person may assume or use the title or designation “Certified Public Accountant” or the abbreviation “CPA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviation, sign, card, or device likely to be confused with “certified public accountant” or “CPA”, in conjunction with names indicating or implying that there is a partnership or corporation, or in conjunction with the designation “and Company” or “and Co.” or a similar designation if, in any such case, there is in fact no bona fide partnership or corporation existing under the laws of this territory.

(d) No person may assume or use the title or designation “public accountant” or the abbre-viation “PA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, sign, card, or device likely to be confused with “public accountant” or “PA” or tending to indicate that such person is a public accountant unless such person holds a current registration of public accountant issued under this chapter and a current permit to practice as such issued under this chapter.

(e) No partnership or corporation may assume or use the title or designation “Public Accountant” or the abbreviation “PA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviation, sign, card, or device likely to be confused with “Public Accountant” or “PA” or tending to indicate that the partnership or corporation is composed of Public Accountants unless each of the partners of the partnership who are in the practice of Public Accountancy in this Territory or each of the shareholders of the corporation who are in the practice of Public Accountancy in this Territory holds a current registration of Public Accountant issued under this chapter and a current permit to practice as such issued under this chapter.

(f) No person may assume or use the title or designation “Public Accountant” or the abbre-viation “PA” or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviation, sign, card, or device likely to be confused with “Public Accountant” or “PA”, in conjunction with names indicating or implying that there is a partnership or corporation, or in conjunction with the designation ‘‘and Company’’ or ‘‘and Co.’’ or a similar designation if, in any such case, there is in fact no bona fide partnership or corporation existing under the laws of this territory.

31.0223 Prohibited acts-Special knowledge.


(a) A person may not sign or affix his name or any trade assumed name used by him in his profession or business with any wording indicating, suggesting, or implying that he is an accountant or auditor, or with any wording indicating, suggesting, or implying that he has special knowledge in accounting or auditing, to any opinion or certificate attesting in any way to the reliability of any representation or estimate in regard to any person or organization embracing:

(1) financial information; or

(2) facts respecting compliance with conditions established by law or contract, including but not limited to statutes, ordinances, regulations, grants, loans, and appropriations unless that person holds a current certificate or registration and a current permit to practice issued under this chapter.

(b) A person may not sign or affix a partnership or corporate name with any wording in-dicating, suggesting, or implying that it is a partnership or corporation composed of accountants or auditors or persons having special knowledge of accounting or auditing, to any opinion or certificate attesting in any way to the reliability of any representation or estimate in regard to any person or organization embracing:

(1) financial information; or

(2) facts respecting compliance with conditions established by law or contract, including but not limited to statutes, ordinances, regulations, grants, loans, and appropriations unless each of the partners of the partnership who are in the practice of public accountancy in this Territory or each of the shareholders of the corporation who are in the practice of public accountancy in this territory holds a current certificate of certified public accountant or a current registration of public accountant issued under this chapter and a current permit to practice issued under this chapter.

31.0224 Exceptions.


Nothing contained in this chapter prohibits any person:

(1) who holds a current Certificate of Certified Public Accountant issued under this chapter from assuming and using the title and designation “Certified Public Accountant” or “CPA” provided, that if that person does not also hold a current permit to practice issued under this chapter, he shall clearly indicate in assuming and using the title that he does not hold himself out to be in the practice of public accountancy;

(2) who holds a current Registration of Public Accountant issued under this chapter from assuming and using the title and designation “Public Account” or “PA”; provided, that if that person does not also hold a current permit to practice issued under this chapter, he shall clearly indicate in assuming and using the title that he does not hold himself out to be in the practice of public accountancy;

(3) who holds a temporary practice permit issued under this chapter from using the title and designation under which he is generally known in the state or country from which he received his certificate, registration, license, or degree for the practice of public accountancy;

(4) who is not a Certified Public Accountant or Public Accountant from serving as an em-ployee of, or an assistant to, a Certified Public Accountant or Public Accountant; provided, that employee or assistant works under the control and supervision of a person who holds a current Certificate of Certified Public Accountant or a current Registration of Public Accountant and a current permit to practice as such issued under this chapter; and provided further, that the employee or assistant does not issue any statement or report over his name except the office reports to his employer as are customary, and that the employee or assistant is not in any manner held out to the public as a certified public accountant or public accountant;

(5) who is an officer, employee, partner, or principal of any organization from signing or affixing his name to any statement or report in reference to the affairs of that organization; provided, that in so signing or affixing his name he shall clearly indicate that he is an officer, employee, partner or principal of the organization, and the position, title or office which he holds therein;

(6) who is a public employee from the performance of his duties as such;

(7) who is an attorney at law from engaging in practice as such.

31.0230 Injunctions.


Whenever the Board has reason to believe that any person has engaged, or is about to engage, in any act or practice which constitutes, or will constitute, a violation of 31.0222 through 31.0224, the Board may certify the facts underlying that belief to the Attorney General of this Territory, who shall make application to the appropriate court for an order enjoining that act or practice, an injunction, restraining order or any other order as may be appropriate shall be granted by the court without bond.

31.0231 Criminal penalties.


Any person who violates any provision of 31.0222 through 31.0224 is guilty of a class B misdemeanor. Whenever the Board has reason to believe that any person is liable to punishment under this section, it may certify the facts underlying that belief to the Attorney General who shall cause appropriate proceedings to be brought.

31.0232 Evidence of practice.


The display or uttering by a person of a card, sign, advertisement, or other printed, engraved or written instrument or device bearing a person’s name in conjunction with the words “Certified Public Accountant” or any abbreviation thereof, of the words “Public Accountant” or any abbreviation thereof, is prima facie evidence in any action brought under 31.0230 or 31.0231 that the person whose name is so displayed caused or procured the display or uttering of such card, advertisement or other printed, engraved or written instrument or device and that such person is holding himself out to be a Certified Public Accountant or Public Accountant holding a current permit to practice issued under 31.0219. In any such action, evidence of the commission of a single act prohibited in 31.0222 through 31.0224 is sufficient to justify an injunction or a conviction without evidence of a general course of conduct.

31.0233 Ownership of accountant’s working papers.


All statements, records, schedules, working papers, and memoranda made by a Certified Public Accountant or Public Accountant incident to or in the course of professional service to clients by that accountant, except reports submitted by a Certified Public Accountant or Public Accountant to a client, shall be and remain the property of the accountant in the absence of an express agreement between the accountant and the client to the contrary. No statement, record, schedule, working paper, or memorandum shall be sold, transferred or bequeathed, without the consent of the client or his personal representative or assignee, to anyone other than 1 or more surviving partners or new partners of that account or to his corporation.