The Financial Reporting Council has launched an investigation into whether any chartered accountant associated with the tax avoidance vehicle the Cup Trust might be guilty of misconduct.
The Cup Trust is a charity set up to avoid tax. In two years it raised £176m in donations, claimed £46m in tax relief, but spent just £55,000 on charitable activities. It has a single corporate trustee, Mountstar PTC, which is based in the British Virgin Islands.
The FRC sets accountancy standards in the UK, and anyone wishing to practice as a chartered accountant must be a member of a professional body signed up to the FRC accountancy scheme, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
The scheme provides a framework for ensuring that if members do not conduct themselves properly in the course of their job, they can be subject to disciplinary action.
The FRC investigates individuals referred to it by others, and will open a formal inquiry if there is sufficient evidence. If that inquiry finds a case to answer, the matter will be taken to a formal tribunal made up of accountants and other professionals with relevant experience.
If that tribunal finds against the individual they can be reprimanded, fined, or have their membership of the accountancy profession suspended.
"The Financial Reporting Council has launched an investigation under the Accountancy Scheme into whether any member associated with the Cup Trust may have committed misconduct with respect to the establishment and operation of this charity and any related tax planning issues," the FRC said in a statement.
The individuals are not named, which is normal FRC practice in investigations of this type, an FRC spokeswoman said.