News in brief.
Three HLB Kidsons partners, including Andrew Hosking, were appointed to act as administrators to mobile phone retailer The Phone People last Friday. The company had borrowed heavily for expansion. It is continuing to trade but is initially shutting 17 stores as it looks for buyers for the remaining business. For more on this story go to www.accountancyage.com/News/1119429
Roland Peter Lewis, former FD of Resort Hotels, has been severely reprimanded by the accountancy profession’s senior watchdog for misleading shareholders over his role at the company. Complaints against Lewis, 50, suggested he did not fulfil the normal functions of an FD and acted more like a non-executive director. He also claimed to possess ‘knowledge about the business of Resort which he did not in fact have, thereby lending credence to misleading statements,’ according to the accountants’ Joint Disciplinary Tribunal’s report. Lewis was ordered to pay £15,000 costs. The full story can be found at www.accountancyage.com/News/1119410
Sir John Bourn, comptroller and auditor general, is being given further access to royal accounts amid demands for greater transparency and accountability. Sir Michael Peat, keeper of the privy purse and a former partner at KPMG, this week told the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Sir John ‘would do an excellent job’ auditing the Royal Collection Trust Fund – but wondered why the trust was being picked out for this treatment. For more on this visit www.accountancyage.com/News/1119407
The DTI has yet to set a date for the publication of its report on the Maxwell affair, which is expected to criticise financial institutions and auditors over their role in the flotation of Mirror Group Newspapers in 1991. The report, sections of which have been leaked to the media, is believed to be critical of merchant bank Samuel Montagu and partners of Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte. For more on this visit www.accountancyage.com/Practice/1117692
The achievements of the International Accounting Standards Committee are being undermined by the poor compliance of companies using international accounting standards, according to the International Accounting Standards Survey 2000. Written by David Cairns, a former IASC secretary-general, the report also pointed to companies poorly auditing IAS financial statements. The study reported that over one-third of companies surveyed had not audited their IAS information. This survey is at www.cairns.co.uk. More at opinion, page 16
Cash-strapped Hackney council is at the centre of a fraud investigation where thousands of pounds have allegedly been siphoned off into bogus bank accounts. The fraud was discovered following the introduction of tighter budgetary controls brought in by the council’s new finance and management team, supported by Deloitte & Touche. The matter is being investigated by the local fraud squad. One arrest has been made. More on Hackney at www.hackney.gov.uk
KPMG Corporate Finance has revealed 90% of the smaller quoted company market falls well below the minimum market capitalisation required by institutional investors. The survey showed a continuing move against the sector as fund managers came under pressure to invest in bigger, more liquid stocks with a desired minimum market capitalisation of £200m. Currently only 122 out of 1,556 smaller quoted companies fit this profile. More on this story at www.kpmg.co.uk. For more on corporate finance, see page 13
Recruitment consultancy Robert Walters has published a survey reviewing salaries in various markets in the UK, Ireland, continental Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia Pacific, and South Africa. In the UK, the study focuses on London, the Thames Valley, and Manchester and the North-West. The survey offers an insight into market trends in each business sector. More at www.robertwalters.com. Accountants work overtime, page 3
UK corporate investigation firms are understood to be preparing a behind the scenes offensive against the accountancy profession in a bid to have firms included in the rules proposed in the Private Security Industry Bill. Companies including Kroll Associates and Control Risks Group have written to the Home Office and met government officials over the matter. The new law will create a Security Industry Authority to set standards of conduct. However, the ICAEW said accountants were already better controlled by its rules than they would be under the Bill. Web reviews of fraud sites are at www.accountancyage.com/IT/1119289.