Now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm and two of its partners will on 10 September challenge the findings of an accountants’ Joint Disciplinary Tribunal over their roles as auditors of the merchant bank, brought down by the activities of rogue trader Nick Leeson.
If the appeal is dismissed, the firm could face a fine and the partners – Gareth Davies and Andrew Turner – face the possibility of sanctions such as a ban from the profession.
The case was first heard by the tribunal last year, but Coopers appealed its findings, details of which were never revealed.
However, the appeal hearing, expected to last around ten days, could be only the precursor to a much more protracted court case following the failure of settlement talks this week between Coopers and Barings’ liquidators at Ernst & Young.
An ‘agreement in principle’, rumoured to be worth up to Pounds 150m, was reached between the two last month.
However, the collapse of the negotiations means that E&Y is set to go ahead and sue Coopers and fellow auditor Deloitte & Touche Singapore on behalf of Barings creditors for Pounds 1bn for negligence.
Due to start in October, experts say it could be the most expensive case in legal history, although further attempts at a settlement have not been ruled out.
The failure of this week’s talks are thought to be due to increased demands by some Barings creditors.
A PwC spokesman said: ‘The collapse of talks is a matter of regret but we remain ready for trial now.’
Liquidator Alan Bloom, head of corporate restructuring at E&Y, told Accountancy Age: ‘Important issues arose that those parties involved in settlement were unable to resolve.’
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