News in brief – 3 December

Barings’ man disqualified

Chartered accountant Andrew Tuckey has been disqualified from being a company director for his involvement in the collapse of Barings. In the High Court, Mr Justice Jonathan Parker said former bank director Tuckey, along with Ronald Baker and Anthony Gamby, had shown ‘such a degree of incompetence’ that they should not be involved in company management. All three now face a further hearing to determine how long they should be disqualified as company directors.

Builders dodge accounts ban Construction companies are getting round a bar on using proportional consolidation to account for their joint operations by employing a new accounting method which is almost identical. According to the December issue of Company Reporting, FRS 9 introduces a form of ‘direct accounting’ for ‘joint arrangements that are not entities’ (JANE) which amounts to ‘more or less’ the same thing. This new method will often be available for joint operations in industries that formerly made extensive use of proportional consolidation.

Capping end won’t up tax Plans to modernise local government will not mean ‘excessive’ council tax rises, local government minister Hilary Armstrong said this week.

Announcing the end of compulsory competitive tendering and universal rate capping, Armstrong said she expected budget savings of about 2% a year once the proposals are in effect which councils could use for frontline services. Abolishing ‘crude and universal’ capping was a Labour manifesto commitment but the government is to bring in new reserve powers enabling it to intervene when councils spend too much.

ASB pensions rethink call The National Association of Pension Funds has urged the Accounting Standards Board to think again on accounting for pension costs. It warned that draft standards proposed by the ASB are flawed and fail to give a true picture of long-term pension costs to companies.

Dr Ann Robinson, NAPF director general, said: ‘Annual pension costs which move up and down based purely on changing market prices would be confusing for investors and could persuade finance directors to move out of defined benefit schemes.’

Hampel rules are breached Nearly half of Britain’s leading companies are breaching the Hampel report’s recommendation to disclose voting results at their agms. The Pensions & Investment Research Consultants’ annual proxy voting survey ‘names and shames’ the 172 FTSE 350 companies which did not disclose, including GEC, HSBC, Boots and Barclays Bank.

Data match at agencies Inland Revenue records are to be data-matched with the Benefits Agency in a new drive to catch social security fraudsters. Social security secretary Alistair Darling said employers suspected of colluding with fraudulent claimants would be a particular target of moves to cross-reference computerised tax and benefit files.

Preparation for euro on up Action by small and medium-sized enterprises to prepare for the 1 January euro launch has more than doubled since May, according to a new survey for the Treasury. But competitiveness minister Lord Simon warned progress was not fast enough. ‘Almost half of UK SMEs have trading links with EU markets and risk losing competitiveness,’ he said.

ACCA award finalists ACCA has announced its shortlist for the 1998 Environment Reporting Awards. More than 50 UK companies submitted entries for the awards and 15, including BP, British Airways and ICI, were chosen to go forward to the final judging in December. Award winners will be announced at a ceremony in London.

Related reading