Andersen UK must reassure clients

A spokesperson for Andersen UK last night admitted that Enron-related documents had been destroyed at the London office of the auditor, but by US staff on secondment, under instruction from their counterparts in Houston.

Nevertheless, Andersen UK are now firmly embroiled in the Enron scandal and must work even harder to build bridges with its audit clients.

As Richard Timmins, Andersen’s UK finance director told Financial Director in February, before the indictment was announced: “Clearly there is a potential impact on our reputation if we don’t act. We need to work with our clients, to help them understand the issues,” he said.

Timmins continued: “I think our communication with our clients has been good. We’ve had some good feedback from them.”

But, Timmins and the rest of Andersen’s UK management team may see much of their hard work undone as client relations were dealt a massive blow last night as the reputation and the integrity of the London office was called into question.

Arthur Andersen, the firm’s Chicago-based parent company responded to the indictment in a global statement: “Non-U.S. member firms of the Andersen Worldwide network provide employment to 60,000 people in 83 countries outside the United States. These member firms have a heritage of respect and leadership in their local markets. They are evaluating the implications of these developments and considering a number of options to address the concerns of their clients,” it said.

Andersen UK will publish its own statement later today.

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