Accountancy Age: Partner fined after colleagues report him to institute

Alan Sutton, a former regional managing partner based in Manchester, was reprimanded and fined £1,500 with £3,500 costs after being found to have sold 2,937,500 shares belonging to Baker Tilly without partner approval.

Sutton, who resigned in 1997, had raised a fee note for £58,750 for work on a company administration. The Manchester partners and the then managing partner of the firm agreed to accept shares, issued in Sutton’s name, as payment. Sutton sold the shares for £29,109.87, paying the proceeds into an account in his name but separate from his personal dealings. The money was later transferred to a personal bank account.

He then paid £25,000 from this account to the firm, having previously withdrawn £25,000 from Baker Tilly’s Manchester office account.

When the firm’s national finance partner asked Sutton to account for the transaction, he failed to respond. Shortly after he transferred £29,109.87 into the proceeds account.

The tribunal ruled selling the shares without approval, failing to account for and communicating the transactions to the firm was a breach of the fundamental principle of acting with honesty and integrity.

It revealed a partnership dispute had occurred between Sutton, who denied the complaint, the Manchester office and the national office. The tribunal said Sutton’s actions were an attempt to obtain tactical advantage in the dispute, not to make a wrongful profit.

A Baker Tilly spokesman said: ‘In compliance with our professional guidelines, when irregularities come to light we are required to report such matters to the Institute of Chartered Accountants for investigation.’

The firm, now led by Clive Parritt, supported the institute’s findings.

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