Coopers audit finds the going hard

The betting was running heavily against Coopers & Lybrand retaining its audit of the British Horseracing Board, after a group of economists at the firm committed the cardinal sin of criticising the client’s financial plans.

Coopers said it was ‘completely embarrassed’ and had ‘apologised profusely’ to the board for the failure of its economics unit to check if it was on its list of audit clients.

The #35,000 report was commissioned by the Betting Office Licensees Association – which will be enjoying Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot (above) today – which has been highly critical of the board’s plans for the racing industry.

The board wants to invest about #105m, mainly from bookies’ takings.

Peter Savill, the board’s new chairman, is expected to give Coopers audit partner Peter Benson a ‘whipping’. Savill, speaking at a briefing to launch the board’s 1997 annual report, said he was waiting for a ‘full explanation’ from Benson. He said: ‘Nobody at Coopers made any attempt to contact anybody at the board before producing this report.’ Savill was asked if Coopers would be fired. He replied: ‘Let’s say that things hang by a thread.’

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