News in brief – 15 April

New structure for Deloittes

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu international partners agreed a new global structure at a meeting in London this week. From tomorrow, UK senior partner John Connolly becomes global managing partner of assurance audit and advisory services. Jerry Leamon becomes global managing partner of the firm’s global tax practice. Pat Loconto was confirmed as the global managing partner for Deloitte Consulting, the third branch of the firm’s new structure.

Cheat faces jail term Accountant Michael Bull, formerly of Croydon firm McGurran Sulkhon, faces a possible jail term today when he is due to be sentenced on cheat charges relating to activities of the collapsed five-strong partnership.

Fellow partner Brendan McGurran was last year given a three-year sentence for VAT evasion.

Delayed ICA strategy The English ICA council is understood to have blocked publication of the institute’s ‘Strategy for the 21st Century’ until the autumn. It had intended to announce the plans, thought to include reforms to district societies and the general and business practitioners boards, this month.

Barclays FD to stay longer Barclays’ finance director Oliver Stocken is to stay on beyond his retirement date of 23 April, after the shock resignation of chief executive Michael O’Neill on Tuesday. Sir Peter Middleton will become group chief executive until a replacement is found. Analysts said new management was vital to realise the group’s potential.

Treasury documents The Treasury was expected to release the final four documents in the Financial Services & Markets Bill yesterday. These related to collective investment schemes, the disclosure of information, insolvency and official listing rules.

Adjudicator appointed The new adjudicator of the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise will be Dame Barbara Mills QC, former director of public prosecutions. Mills, who is also a former director of the Serious Fraud Office, will act as an impartial referee to people dissatisfied with the departments’ responses to their complaints.

Business confidence up Financial services companies have started to dispel fears of a major economic slowdown following last year’s Asian crisis, according to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report shows business confidence has improved for the first time in a year with 38% of firms more optimistic than three months ago, while 14% were less optimistic, leaving a positive balance of 24%.

Water bills assurance A government-appointed committee has assured water companies that plans for commercially based rating assessments on their sewers will not send bills soaring. The 2nd Woods Committee has proposed methods for the switchover – replacing the pre-privatisation determination of nationalised industries’ rates bills by prescription – for gas, rail, docks, canals, electricity and telecoms.

Scots UK tax rate decision The Inland Revenue is consulting with companies providing pensions to Scottish customers on proposals allowing them to submit documentation based on UK tax rates. If people registered in Scotland pay contributions net of their highest marginal rate of tax, whether or not the Scottish parliament decides to levy a ‘tartan tax’, the industry would save an estimated #150m.

Tax campaign pledge Michael Sherry, the chairman-elect of the English ICA’s tax faculty, vowed to campaign to simplify the tax system at its conference last weekend. ‘Tax avoidance is a symptom of a poor and overly complicated tax system,’ said Sherry. ‘If the government wants to reduce tax avoidance, it should apply a strategy to simplify the tax system as a whole.’

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