The fallout from the Akai Holdings case has cast the spotlight on whether regulators need to strengthen their investigative powers over the city's bean counters. One big question is whether the government should expand the Financial Reporting Council's role in overseeing the accountancy sector. Although charged with investigating failures to properly audit listed companies, the council has kept a conspicuously low profile since Ernst & Young last week settled out of court following its alleged negligence over the collapse of its former client, electronics giant Akai. Ernst & Young said it was conducting an internal investigation into one of its Hong Kong partners, who has been suspended from duty. The accountancy giant has also reported the case to the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA), which may take disciplinary action against the individual or refer the case to the council for further investigation. For those confused about the roles of the HKICPA and the council, here is a brief introduction. The HKICPA, established in the 1970s, is a statutory body that licenses all of the city's 28,000 accountants. It sets accounting standards and disciplines members by fines or revoking their licences. The Financial Reporting Council, formed two years ago, is a statutory body to take over the investigation work of the institute in regard to audit failures. Unlike the council, the HKICPA does not have full-time staff and lacks investigative powers. The council now finds itself well and truly on the back foot in the Akai case. It needs to wait for Ernst & Young's internal probe to be completed and for an HKICPA referral before it even begins an inquiry. This is just not good enough. Ernst & Young's internal inquiry will not be independent. Letting the council do the probe is more independent and appropriate. Under the current system, the council only investigates but has no powers to punish anyone. It can pass its findings back to the HKICPA for action or, if it suspects criminality, refer the case to the police, the Securities and Futures Commission or the Independent Commission Against Corruption. In this regard, Hong Kong is simply not matching international practices. In the US and Europe, the inspection, investigation and taking of disciplinary actions on accountants are conducted by a completely independent body. Structured products For this week's video podcast, we have Yann Garnier, the head of structured product sales at Societe Generale Asia-Pacific, as our guest. Structured products have been popular in Hong Kong since 2004 and many investors like to trade these complicated instruments that offer high returns during a bull run. Garnier said sales of structured products had dropped in Hong Kong and Singapore in the past 12 months but increased in Japan.