News in Brief – 22 October

SFO charges Peter Young

The Serious Fraud Office this week charged Peter Young, the formernior civil servants’ expenses after dismissing its finance director for ‘gross misconduct’. Martyn Bittleston was sacked after the National Audit Office found discrepancies in his expenses during a routine audit. star fund manager of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management, with conspiracy to defraud and other offences under the Financial Services Act. Young, who was charged with three others, has been under investigation by Pannell Kerr Forster and the SFO since January 1997.

Concentric faces FRRP The Financial Reporting Review Panel has found that annual accounts of Birmingham-based engineer Concentric failed to meet company disclosure standards over its #4.4m acquisition of Weed Instrument in July 1997.

The acquisition was referred to in the chairman’s statement and the group profile but was not disclosed in the financial statements. Concentric made voluntary statements in its interim report and said it will provide a full disclosure in its next financial statements.

Law Society MDP call The Law Society has called for safeguards to ensure clients can instruct a solicitor of their choice without being pressured to employ one connected to their accountants through a multidisciplinary practice. The society, which currently bans solicitors from sharing profits with non-solicitors, published a consultation paper on the prospect of MDPs yesterday. It also said MDPs should not be restricted to partnerships with accountancy firms.

Harvey made group member David Harvey, secretary of ACCA’s small business committee, has been appointed a member of the Better Payment Practice Group, a joint government and industry initiative to encourage prompt payment between UK businesses. The group is publishing a prompt payment code of practice next Wednesday.

Mazars urges LEA review Mazars Neville Russell has urged the government to impose a common system of accounting for Local Education Authorities to help parents compare financial performance of schools. John Chastney, a partner and education specialist at Mazars, criticised the government for not providing consistent financial information on schools and called for a single LEA reporting system.

NAO reports on Paymaster National Audit Office chief Sir John Bourn has reported to parliament on the final accounts of the Paymaster Agency which was privatised last year. Paymaster, which provided a public-sector banking and pensions service, was sold to a joint-venture company for an initial consideration of #22.7m. Following further scrutiny from the Treasury, purchasers Electronic Data Systems and Hogg Robinson paid an extra #74,000.

Prevention is key, says NAO Accountants could help stem the rise in profit warnings if they tell companies how to stop potential problems early on, according to Ernst & Young. In its quarterly profit-warning analysis, the firm said 86 UK-quoted companies reported profit warnings in the third quarter of this year, up from 75 in quarter two. The increase was blamed on the continuing economic crisis in Asia, the strong pound and declining domestic demand.

Housing gets local control Local authorities will have more say in how they spend their housing capital allocation under proposals launched this week by local government minister Hilary Armstrong. The proposals, which include a single capital pot, could be in place by April 2000 if they are agreed by the English housing associations.

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