To what extent is a bookkeeper liable for the accuracy of the financial reporting?

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To what extent is a bookkeeper liable for the accuracy of the financial reporting?

I was a bookkeeper for a private corp owned by 4 partners. One partner in particular required that I classify what I believed to be personal purchases made with company funds and categorize them as business expenses. At the time I did not have a degree in accounting. Can I be prosecuted even though I am not the owner, or a CPA? I do have an 2 year degree now but I earned that after I left the corporation.

Asked on January 11, 2012 under Criminal Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the partner commited tax fraud--which seems likely from what you write--you could potentially be prosecuted, too: you aided and abetted this fraud, by agreeing to misclassify the items (you could have refused to do so; the most he could have done is fire you, and people are not allowed to use the risk of being fired as a justification for committing crimes). Moreover, since you evidently knew or had reason to believe the items were misclassified, but went along with it, that would supply the necessary criminal intent.


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