Do you accept public officer/local representative appointments?

Yes, but only after we have satisfied ourselves as to the integrity and financial standing of the client. An annual fee is charged for the risk in holding these appointments. The fee is billed annually in advance, is non-refundable and is not reduced where the period is less than twelve months as the service is not time related. Time spent on work performed to discharge our duties is charged at our hourly rates.

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What is the role of the public officer?

The public officer appointment is extremely onerous as he assumes full responsibility for the accuracy, completeness and timely lodgment of all tax returns (company tax, employees tax and vat). While the shipping agents usually deal with customs declarations, the public officer remains responsible. Final demands and court summonses are served on the public officer, he/she can be held civilly or criminally liable for transgressions committed by the company which could result in arrest and imprisonment. It is vital that the public officer has a good understanding of the client’s business model, the internal control systems and procedures, transfer pricing policies and develop a good working relationship with the client’s employees responsible for the accounting and compliance functions.

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What is the role of a local representative?

A local representative is appointed in terms of the Companies Act of 2008, as the ‘person authorised to accept service of process’. They assume general responsibility as the prescribed officer of the company they represent. The local representative is subject to the same liability provisions that apply to Directors.

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We’re feeling vulnerable about our operation in South Africa. We have an area manager, a bookkeeper, and two administration clerks , our finance manager based in London. The finance manager has many other responsibilities and finds it difficult to give the local operation the attention it needs. Understandably, the local bookkeeper does not have an accounting knowledge. How can you help us?

We can work with the bookkeeper to give the financial manager complete peace of mind that everything is up to date and that there are no problems developing. To be effective we need a proper mandate and the financial manager’s full support. We would report to the Finance Manager monthly. We find that clients are particularly vulnerable in payroll and VAT administration. If errors of principle are not detected, they compound and can be very costly especially if there are interest and penalty charges. We have all the local knowledge and skills to do payroll and VAT audits, we can co-ordinate the statutory audit, calculate the tax liability and prepare the financial statements, we are also company secretaries. We are accessible than the statutory auditors and our approach is constructive not defensive.

We have a local sales / support team, but at this stage, the operation does not warrant setting up an accounts department. Can you help us? 

We service many clients in this situation. We can provide a comprehensive accounting service in accordance with your specific requirements. We will maintain a general ledger, suppliers’ ledger, customers ledger, fixed asset register; attend to all compliance requirements (completion of all statutory returns and payments in respect thereof, company tax, VAT and employees’ tax); administer the payroll; make payments to suppliers and staff; apply for exchange control approval and on receipt of such approval pay intercompany accounts; reconcile all ledger accounts and prepare monthly management accounts together with a commentary on significant transactions, trends, etc.

 We want to remit funds overseas and place our subsidiary company into voluntary liquidation, but our accounting records and statutory returns are not up to date. Can you help? 

Yes. We have the expertise to get the job done in its entirety. You are right, a voluntary liquidation may only proceed after all statutory returns are up to date, the company has no assets nor liabilities, the bank account closed and a certificate from the accountants has been issued to confirm all of the foregoing.

 You may recall that our South African counsel, has recommend your firm to act as the local representative and local audit firm for our new local non-profit organization.  We are in the process of registering. 

If you believe your company can provide this service, I would like to put you in touch with our CFO so that she can interview you and give her approval.