HCW defends bar audit

The former auditor of collapsed bar operator SFI group has defended its
procedures in the face of a potential claim for £54m.

Horwarth Clark Whitehill said it stands by its work, despite the £23m black
hole discovered in SFI’s accounts. The former bar chain, which ran 150 bars
under the brand names Slug and Lettuce, Bar Med, Havana and the Litten Tree, is
still considering whether to sue the firm over its role.

Chief executive of HCW Andrew Pianca admitted the firm had been issued with a
pre-action protocol, which establishes a framework for information exchange so
that a claim can be fully investigated and may pave the way for litigation. But
he continued to defend the firm’s reputation.

‘We are happy with our audit procedures,’ said Pianca. ‘Obviously I will
continue to defend [against the claim]. We do not agree with it of course.’ He
expects the situation will take some time to resolve.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was appointed as administrators for the group in June,
and sold the head office and 98 pubs to the Laurel Pub Company. Prior to PwC’s
appointment SFI had been working with Kroll Corporate Finance who, as strategic
advisers, worked on attempts at restructuring the company to save the group from
being dismantled after its shares were suspended.

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