PwC tight-lipped about public hearing

PricewaterhouseCoopers will become the first firm of accountants to face
public disciplinary hearings in the UK, unless it successfully appeals for the
tribunal over its work for collapsed bus-maker Mayflower to be heard behind
closed doors.

The disciplinary hearing against the firm and David Donnelly, the former FD
of Mayflower, will be the first test of tribunal procedures by the Accountancy
Investigation and Discipline Board.

Unlike its predecessor, the Joint Disciplinary Scheme, AIDB tribunals are
normally held in public ‘except in exceptional circumstances where the tribunal
decides this would not be in the interests of justice’.

PwC has remained tight-lipped as to whether it will put forward any arguments
that this should be the case for the Mayflower hearing. Only one JDS case has
previously been heard in public; that of Gerald James, former chairman of Astra
Holdings, at the request of James. However, a firm has yet to undergo the
disciplinary process in the public glare.

The complaints against PwC relate to the audit of the 2002 accounts of
Mayflower subsidiary Transbus and in particular amounts held on behalf of a bank
under an invoice discounting facility, as well as disclosures in Mayflower
accounts of the same year relating to its ability to continue as a going concern
beyond 2003.

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