The week in review: 7-11 October

On Monday it was revealed that Britain’s poor productivity is costing the Treasury £111bn in lost revenue. According to a survey, the nation is only economically productive on 115 out of 225 possible working days.

Further afield, SEC chairman Harvey Pitt canceled his appearance at a London conference amid the growing storm over the selection of a chief for the new US accounting watchdog.

Tuesday saw trade secretary Patricia Hewitt launch a review of the accounting industry’s independent regulator – the Accountancy Foundation, while the Scottish Institute faced a backlash from members over a 13.5% fee increase.

On Wednesday it was revealed the burden of regulatory compliance on British auditors working for US-listed companies could well be lifted by the SEC with regard to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on corporate governance.

And US conglomerate Tyco announced plans to try and claim back $45m (£28.9m) from its former chief financial officer, Mark Swartz,claiming that he had ‘misappropriated company funds and other assets’.

Thursday Accountancy Age revealed the ICAEW had earmarked around £700,000 to be spent this year on defending the reputation of auditors and accountants, while reports from Brussels, where the EU was in discussion with Harvey Pitt, said the UK government now believed the SEC could allow ‘exclusions and flexibility’ within the new US corporate governance legislation for non-US companies and auditors.

The week ended on Friday as two high ranking accountants who used to work at WorldCom pleaded guilty to fraud, bring the total number to four, of former company executives at the collapsed telecom, who have struck deals with the US justice department.

Closer to home, Britains were faced with the depressing news that, for the first time in 10 years, they pay more tax than the Germans.

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