30 June 2023

SNP to meet accounts deadline with audit ‘qualification’

30 June 2023

The SNP says it is on course to meet its deadline to submit audited accounts, but they will contain a “qualification”.

The party appointed new auditors in May ahead of an Electoral Commission deadline on July 7, when the party must submit its accounts or face a fine by the regulator.

Members of the SNP national executive committee (NEC) met on Thursday evening and approved the accounts.

On Friday, the party said: “The audit contains one qualification relating to one stream of income due to administrative processes, resulting in a limitation in scope of the audit.

“There is no suggestion that the accounts do not present an accurate picture of the party’s financial position.”

This relates to missing documentation for “membership, donations and raffle income” for 2022 and 2021.

When auditors are fully confident in an organisation’s financial reporting their audit is said to be “unqualified”, if they have concerns about an area it is said to be “qualified”.

AMS Accountants Group was appointed as auditors after it emerged the party’s previous auditors had stood down last year.

Humza Yousaf only found this out after he became leader in March.

The most recent accounts are expected to be published by the Electoral Commission at a later date.

MP Stuart McDonald was appointed party treasurer following the resignation of Colin Beattie, who was arrested and released without charge amid the ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s finances.

Mr McDonald said: “I’m pleased to confirm that the Scottish National Party’s accounts have been approved by NEC for the year 2022 and we are in a position to meet our statutory obligations.

“The SNP’s main source of income remains our membership – which we are immensely grateful for.”

He said the party had made “administrative changes” in line with auditors’ recommendations which would contribute to the SNP’s ongoing governance review ordered by Mr Yousaf.

Mr McDonald added: “Against the backdrop of a Tory-made cost-of-living crisis and a decade which has seen eight election campaigns, the people-powered SNP campaign has faced challenges but we are optimistic of a return to surplus in the next set of accounts and will be more than ready for the next electoral challenge.”

The party has said it always keeps a careful online record of all income and there is no suggestion of misappropriation of funds.

The Scottish Conservatives said the audit qualification suggested “murkiness” in the SNP’s finances.

Party chairman Craig Hoy said: “Almost every time there’s a question about their behaviour or finances, the relevant documents or minutes of meetings don’t exist, or need to be dragged out of them.

“Now their new auditors – that they only managed to secure at the 11th hour, having spammed accountancy firms across the country – have had to qualify their sign-off of the accounts by saying documents about cash are missing and that they can’t satisfy themselves about completeness of income.

“This would amount to a shocking lack of transparency in any organisation.

“From a party in government, it is a disgrace that surely calls their credibility and probity into question.”

The Electoral Commission said it had not yet received the SNP’s accounts but it would publish them “as soon as practicable”.

While political parties have submitted qualified accounts before it is not common

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