News in brief.

Foreign multi-nationals are attempting to claim hundreds of millions in damages over the now abolished advance corporation tax. The European Court of Justice ruled last month that ACT had breached European law and discriminated against foreign owned subsidiaries. The ECJ case, brought by German company Hoechst, now Aventis, opens the way for other European companies to claim damages for not having the same rights as UK corporations.

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New regional and area directors appointed under the Inland Revenue’s reorganisation have been told they must talk to professional tax advisers.The reforms create 64 areas, comprised of clusters of local offices, under the management of seven regions. A spokesman for the Revenue said: ‘Customer needs vary which is why area management is so important.’

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Baker Tilly, the number 10 UK firm, is to open a business recovery office in Hong Kong. Colin Haig, national director of business recovery, said: ‘Hong Kong is one of the few jurisdictions where businesses and entrepreneurs are used to buying specialist professional services from niche boutiques.’

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The government wants small businesses to be better prepared to attract investment. Its Small Business Service is to roll out a new network of venture capital funds and series of pilot initiatives this summer to make small businesses ‘more investment ready’. SBS chief executive David Irwin said small firms need a better understanding of how to secure and manage investments. A consultation document ‘Investment Readiness: Helping Enterprises Access Equity Finance for Growth’ was launched by the SBS this week.

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The New Millennium Experience Company, the troubled operator of the Dome, could face a third investigation by the National Audit Office. The NAO has already produced one damning report on the running of the attraction and will produce a second about the sale of the site. A third report investigating why no plans were made for an orderly closure of the Dome is now likely.

See the damning Dome report at

Queens Park Rangers football club and its parent company Loftus Road plc have gone into administration. Ray Hocking and Simon Michaels of BDO Stoy Hayward have been appointed as administrators to the troubled club, whose losses are currently running at #570,000 a month. Chris Wright, chairman of QPR and founder of the Chrysalis media empire, said: ‘The last six months have been a struggle financially.’ Wasps RFC, also owned by Loftus Road and currently up for sale, will not be affected.

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Grant Thornton has been fined #2,000 under an ICAEW investigation committee consent order following a complaint that advice provided by the firm led to a client losing the benefit of trading losses worth #119,000. The complaint resulted from advice the firm gave in 1993 to a company to implement a reorganisation which involved transferring three subsidiaries into one trading subsidiary. Grant Thornton was reprimanded and ordered to pay #1,000 costs.

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Accountants and auditors should take the lead in the battle against international corruption, the House of Commons international development select committee has said. The all-party group rejected claims that it was not the role of auditors to make moral judgements on what is acceptable. And the committee said the profession should play an ‘active and vocal path in the current debate on the best way forward’. The comments came in the committee’s recent report on corruption in overseas aid.

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The National Audit Office has qualified the accounts for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions due to a disagreement over the accounting treatment of ‘design, build, finance and operate’ road schemes. The DETR’s balance sheet did not include #980m of new lanes or road extensions built under DBFO schemes, which were accounted for as assets of the DBFO operators. The DETR has accepted it might not be appropriate to account for these schemes separately from the original roads.

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