Week in review: 24 – 28 Feb

On Monday the news broke that Ahold, the Dutch-based supermarket giant, had admitted that it overstated its profits by at least $500m (£317m), sparking fears of an Enron-type disaster in Europe.

This was not good news for the government. At the same time as the story broke, Melanie Johnson was flying off to the US to urge the Securities & Exchange Commission to ensure that UK audit firms are not subject to regulation by the new US accounting watchdog.

On the practice front, after almost a year and a half of promises, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants finally held its first open disciplinary hearings.

Tuesday it was revealed that 900,000 tax payers failed to meet the 31 January self assessment deadline.

And chancellor Gordon Brown was reported as saying he wants to postpone his Spring Budget in the hope the pending Iraq war is over before he has to deliver it.

Wednesday saw a Labour dominated committee of MPs brand Customs and Excise as one of the worst offenders in providing information to the Ombudsman, as it launched a bitter attack on government IT system failures.

Our central news team reported that workers who help themselves to software, computer hardware and other office equipment are costing UK small businesses £1.2bn a year, according to new research.

On Thursday, we exclusively revealed that opposition among finance directors to UK membership of the euro is mounting, barely a year after the single currency was launched.

Also on the day, the Dutch equivalent of the ICAEW refuted a report by the Financial Times that it intends to look at Deloitte & Touche’s audit work at Dutch super grocer Ahold, after a $500m hole in the accounts was uncovered.

Friday saw a landmark court battle begin, as a former policeman took on the Inland Revenue in the High Court over the controversial tax law, IR35, with the backing of the Professional Contractors’ Group.

And, surprise surprise, the week rounded off with more criticism for the beleagured Inland Revenue, as it was told to shore up its efforts to tackle the threat of tax fraud by increasing prosecution levels and educating the public.

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