Associations announce Memorandum of Understanding between global bodies for legal and accounting professions

The International Bar Association (IBA) and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that formalizes and demonstrates a commitment to closer cooperation between the two organizations and the legal and accountancy professions as a whole.

This MoU provides a framework for expanding the cooperation between the IBA and IFAC, with a particular focus on anti-corruption and how the professions can work more closely together in the fight against money-laundering and economic crime, with key stakeholders such as the United Nations and Financial Action Task Force. Other areas of cooperation include maintaining the reputations and integrity of the accountancy and legal professions; ensuring that initiatives to regulate both professions are proportionate and fit-for-purpose; and enhancing the strength of the IBA and IFAC’s collective voice on global policy issues so that the legal and accountancy professions are in the best position to serve the public interest.

Mark Ellis, IBA executive director, commented, “As the global voices for our respective professions, the IBA and IFAC are uniquely placed to contribute to global policymaking in the public interest. This MoU marks a natural progression of the collaborative work the IBA and IFAC have been undertaking for several years. There is strength in our collective voice as we aim to bring about positive, meaningful change in the anti-corruption sector. We look forward to implementing the framework set out in this Memorandum and furthering our collaborative efforts with IFAC.”

Kevin Dancey, IFAC chief executive officer, remarked, “I hope that our relationship, at the global level, inspires and encourages professional accountancy organizations and bar associations to develop stronger bilateral relationships in their jurisdictions to increase their impact in the public interest and achieve shared goals.”

Cooperation between the IBA and IFAC has increased in recent years in the context of The IBA and IFAC Anti-Corruption Mandate (July 2018) and close engagement on the roles of the two professions in combatting corruption and financial crime.

In June 2021, the IBA and IFAC co-hosted a side event at the UN General Assembly Special Session Against Corruption in New York on the essential role both the accountancy and legal professions play in fighting corruption on a global scale, with a particular focus on issues of professional ethics and independence. Following on from this event, at the ninth session of the UN Convention Against Corruption Conference of States Parties in December 2021, the IBA and IFAC co-hosted a side event examining the ways in which the accountancy and legal professions act as “gatekeepers” of the global financial system in terms of the prevention, identification and mitigation of corruption.