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In the February 1998 issue of The CPA Journal, at the end of the article about the Ibanez case, mention was made of a case in California whereby a CPA was prohibited from taking commissions in connection with sales to a client because doing so mitigated against impartiality and independence by the CPA in performing attest function services for that client. I have no argument with this, but I think there is a far greater argument against a CPA taking commissions or any other form of compensation from a third party in connection with any advice or recommendations given to a client.

Although the CPA frequently provides the attest function as a major, if not his main, service to the client, and in so doing is actually rendering his professional service to the reader of that to which he is attesting, the CPA is also, and even more frequently, one of the client's most trusted professional consultants and advisors. In this capacity, the CPA occupies a position whereby his advice and counsel carry special weight. In this capacity, the CPA has a responsibility to act solely in the client's best interests. If the CPA's professional judgment is subject to third-party compensation, is this not the clearest form of conflict of interest? How then can the CPA or any professional society of CPAs countenance the acceptance of commissions or any other form of third-party compensation by a CPA in connection with his service to a client regardless of whether the service is in the attest function or not?

David D. Freeman, CPA

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