PwC Southern Africa deputy chief executive officer Ignatius Sehoole has called on peers throughout the continent to stop corruption and prevent criminals from bypassing the rules, at a panel discussion at the African Congress of Accountants (ACOA15).

Sehoole said that over the three day congress, he has heard over and over again that in every corrupt transaction there is an accountant who either participates or is complacent.

While the discussions have been focused on the lack of public accountants, he has warned that there are "$50bn illicit financial flows leaving Africa every year from the private sector".

He argued that there is a need for more accountants in the private sector as much as in the public sector and that African accountants need a change in mentality.

"We’ve heard at this congress accountants saying professional accountancy organisation need to be strengthened to offer protection to whistleblowers," he continued. "But when you declare a war there is not protection, are you prepared to declare a war to reclaim your dignity, are you passionate enough about your motherland?"

He said that without accountants standing up to bad practice and exposing transactions little is going to change.
"We might put our lives at risk by doing so but if we don’t in 50 years from now Africa will still be rising, but when will Africa finally have risen?" he concluded. "Why don’t we take this war to the criminals?"

Sehoole was speaking as a panel member in a plenary session at ACOA15 entitled Ethics & Trust: the war on corruption & illicit financial flows from Africa.