The 2015 job advertisement that resulted in Mr. Mema being hired specifies that candidates “must have certification in a recognized professional accounting designation,” News Nanaimo has learned.
As reported yesterday, the city’s chief financial officer is not legally entitled to call himself a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in BC. That is because he has since 2015 failed to be registered with BC’s accounting watchdog.
As of Friday, Mr. Mema had never been a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC (CPABC), the body that protects the public by enforcing rules on professional accountants in the province.
As a result, the city’s top accountant has been improperly using his CPA designation in BC — including to certify the city’s financial reports — while not being subject to CPABC’s regulations, professional conduct standards and complaints process.
There is no suggestion that Mr. Mema is unqualified to hold the CPA designation. He is currently a member of CPA Alberta, which he first joined in 2014 after he had already moved to BC in 2013.
But rather than join CPABC, he has twice renewed his membership with CPA Alberta, paying the Alberta resident rate, which he billed to Nanaimo taxpayers on his city expenses.
“Must have certification”
Now it has emerged that being certified in a recognized professional accounting designation was a necessary condition of employment when the city hired Mr. Mema in 2015.
At the time the city offered Mr. Mema the director of finance post and in the period since, the CPA was the only accounting designation recognized under BC law.
Mr. Mema was offered the position of director of finance by letter on July 9, 2015 and he accepted it on Aug. 11 that year.
Both events occurred after the Chartered Professional Accountants Act was made law in the province and the CPA replaced all three prior accounting designations — CA, CGA and CMA.
The city’s 2015 job advertisement for Mr. Mema’s position, which was issued prior to the CPA Act becoming law, says: “Applicants must have certification in a recognized professional accounting designation such as CA, CGA, CMA, or CPA… .”
It is not known if Mr. Mema’s current job description requires him to have a valid CPA designation in BC.
The city’s human resources director John Van Horne did not respond by publication time to a request for the job descriptions of Mr. Mema’s current and prior positions at the city.
Meanwhile, the news of Mr. Mema’a designation woes has provoked varied responses from the city’s elected leaders.
Bill Bestwick, chair of the important finance and audit committee that takes a special interest in the city’s finances, sought to deflect any responsibility to comment on the matter.
Referring questions to the mayor, Mr. Bestwick said that as “chairperson, I have no more authority to respond on any city matter. Let alone three initials after Mr. Mema’s name.”
He then complained about the poor attendance of other councillors at his finance committee meetings.
Mayor Bill McKay said he had only learned about Mr. Mema’s designation issues from News Nanaimo last night.
“I will need to learn more from our senior staff in the coming days. Be advised however, that we wouldn’t normally respond to personnel issues,” he said.
Mema remains mum
Meanwhile, Mr. Mema has remained silent on the issue since News Nanaimo contacted him on Friday. He did not respond by publication time to new questions emailed to him this morning.
The designation issue adds to the growing list of questions about the city’s finance department.
Last September, the District of Sechelt filed suit against Mr. Mema seeking repayment of almost $10,000 related to allegedly personal expenses he charged to a corporate credit card. He has not responded to the allegations in court.
Nanaimo officials subsequently blocked News Nanaimo’s request to access statements of corporate credit cards issued to Mr. Mema and city manager Tracy Samra, even though it released records for three other senior managers.
Meanwhile, a scheduled report on management expenses that should have been released in early December has still not been published.
Published records show that Ms. Samra and Mr. Mema spent more than $50,000 in expenses in the 18 months to the end of last June, the most recently available figures.
The two top managers’ spending is almost four times the $13,000 their predecessors spent in their final two years at the city.