In brief.

AOL’s exemption from VAT as a result of its servers being located outside the European Union has caused a row. The US-based internet service provider was targeted by British rival Freeserve, which claims it was unaware until recently that its main rival was exploiting this loophole.

A report from Merrill Lynch, which said that for every 100,000 flat-rate customers AOL earns #2.6m a year by not charging VAT, exposed the anomaly.

This week the company threatened to move abroad if the government doesn’t change the law.

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Entries to this year’s Accountancy Age Awards for Excellence must be in by the new extended deadline of 17 August. The awards judges have also been announced. They are Phil Shohet from Kato Consultancy; Gavin Casey, former chief executive of the Stock Exchange (left); Francesca Lagerberg from the ICAEW; Alan Gow, finance director of Virgin Mobile; Chris Dickson of the accountant’s Joint Disciplinary Scheme; Peter Wyman from PricewaterhouseCoopers; Ian Buckley of the Tenon Group; Lord Sharman, former senior partner of KPMG; and David Buchler of Kroll Buchler Philips.

Details and entry forms can be found at

The ICAEW council was yesterday set to approve plans to charge student members #20 annual membership fees, plus a #10 registration fee, as of August 2002. A new support structure will be put in place to assist students, who will be known as ‘provisional members’. The membership costs will be borne by either individual members or their training firms.

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Baltimore Technologies restated its accounts for 2000 this week, resulting in a 5.5% drop in revenues for the year from #74.2m to #70.1m. The Dublin-based internet securities company said the overstatement of revenues in India, Middle East and Africa regions was ‘a direct result of the actions of a limited number of employees none of whom are still employed by the company’. It also announced an increase of #1m for previously announced revenues for the three-month period ended 30 June 2001.

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A standard on share options is to be one of the nine priorities to be tackled by the International Accounting Standards Board, despite US pressure to avoid the topic, the board announced this week. After talks with the new Standards Advisory Council, national standard setters and regulators, the IASB has set an initial work agenda of nine topics. Sir David Tweedie, board chairman, said the move was the first step towards a single set of high-quality, understandable, and enforceable global accounting standards.

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The Financial Reporting Council, the UK’s accounting rules watchdog, has named ICAEW president Michael Groom as the second of its two new deputy chairmen. Groom, a management consultant and former sole practitioner from the Midlands, will take up his new role next to Sir Iain Vallance, president of the Confederation of British Industry and a former BT chairman.

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Kathleen O’Donovan is to stay on as financial director at troubled global engineering company Invensys. O’Donovan had initially intended to resign following the merger that formed the company. The retention of O’Donovan was announced on the same day the company issued its third profit warning of the year.

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Lynn Turner, chief accountant at the US Securities & Exchange Commission and an auditor independence campaigner, is to resign his post in August after three years of service. He has decided to move into academia and will be the director of the Centre for Quality Financial Reporting at Colorado State University.

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Founders of ‘hard-core’ cartels could face imprisonment under proposals published in the DTI’s Productivity and Enterprise white paper. The government believes the current level of fines against those who engage in cartels is not an adequate deterrent.

Full details of the proposals can be found at

PricewaterhouseCoopers has acquired a 30% stake in UK-based pension consultancy Callund Consulting. Callund, which will remain a separate business, specialises in advising governments on reforming their national pension and health schemes

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