AIDB criticised after defeat at public tribunal

The Accountancy Investigation and Discipline Board has been attacked once
again for its defeat at the industry’s first public tribunal.

The AIDB lost a case in which it laid complaints against
PricewaterhouseCoopers and the FD of Mayflower, David Donnelly.

The AIDB contended that the firm should have recognised that there was a
significant uncertainty as to Mayflower’s ability to continue as a going

The AIDB accused Donnelly of falling short of the standards expected of a
qualified accountant, for allegedly deciding not to inform his board, PwC or
banks that profits at Mayflower’s subsidiary, Transbus, had been overstated.

Commenting on the case, Donnelly’s lawyers, Farrer & Co, said the
tribunal panel upheld their complaints about the expert evidence led by the

‘During the investigation process, Farrer & Co identified and complained
of major deficiencies in the AIDB’s procedures, including the failure to
consider crucial documentation held by Mayflower’s administrators, the
inappropriate use of the same forensic accountant as investigator and expert and
the inappropriate use of a forensic accountant to give expert evidence in
relation to the role of a finance director,’ the law firm stated.

‘These complaints in relation to expert evidence were upheld by the tribunal
in its judgment.’

PwC and Donnelly were both cleared of all charges but the tribunal panel has
not yet published its 240-page judgement. The full judgement is at this stage
only known to the parties involved in the case, but legal counsel acting for
Donnelly, Farrer & Co, have commented on the contents of the panel’s

Will Twidale, a Farrer & Co who lead the case, said he was delighted that
the firm had helped Donnelly clear his name.

‘This is the first case of what may be a significant number brought against
accountants both in business and in practice in the new post-Enron environment,’
said Twidale.

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