Lib Dems blast ‘slow’ ICAEW

In a letter addressed to institute president Michael Groom, Lib Dem Vincent Cable, who has closely followed the development of the Enron saga, has demanded to know how the institute plans to move forward in its inquiry.

The institute confirmed in March it was ‘seeking evidence’ from the US department of justice relating to the role played by Andersen’s London office in the shredding of Enron documents. But since that time its professional standards office has made no other statement as to the status of its inquiry.

Cable said in his letter: ‘I am surprised that it has taken the ICAEW so long to issue any statement as the issue is of great interest to the British public.’

‘Self-regulation is now under the microscope after some serious failures, notably by auditors, and unless the accountancy profession carries through a proper and rapid inquiry into Andersen’s conduct, and is publicly seen to do so, there will be a growing clamour for statutory controls,’ said Cable.

A statement issued to Accountancy Age by the PSO said: ‘The institute is in the process of determining whether there may have been involvement of any of our members through the investigations taking place in the US. The institute responds to individual complaints or specific indications that individuals may have been involved in alleged wrong doing.’

The PSO said it had received a complaint regarding Lord Wakeham, a former non-executive director on Enron’s audit committee, but was awaiting the outcome of US investigations.

A leading lawyer closely involved in the profession called the delay ‘bizarre’ and said it would appear a whitewash if not referred to the senior watchdog, the Joint Disciplinary Scheme.

The ICAEW has come under fire from the Liberal Democrat’s shadow trade secretary for not moving more quickly to decide if there is a case against Andersen in the UK over the Enron shredding scandal.

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