Business – No delay for JDS probe

Legal action by the Serious Fraud Office against three accountants employed formerly by DIY retailer Wickes is not expected to delay the Joint Disciplinary Scheme inquiry into the company’s auditor, Arthur Andersen.

Last week, four former Wickes directors were bailed to appear at Bow Street magistrates court on 30 July following an investigation by the SFO and the Metropolitan Police fraud squad into irregularities in the company’s accounts.

As a result of an internal investigation Wickes disclosed overstated profits of £53m between 1992 and 1995.

Former group finance director and chartered accountant Trefor Wilmot Llewellyn, ex-group financial controller and chartered accountant Geoffrey Battersby and Terence Carson – a management accountant and the former FD of Wickes’ main retail subsidiary – were charged with fraudulent trading and making false statements. Llewellyn resigned in 1995 and all three had left Wickes by 1997.

The JDS is waiting for completion of the SFO probe before deciding whether it will take action against Llewellyn and Battersby. But it said its investigation into Andersens was near completion and has not been held up by the SFO inquiry.

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