The Joint Disciplinary Scheme (JDS) tribunal attempted to close the orders accountants to pay costs. last chapter of the Maxwell saga this week when it censured a former director of Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) and stripped him of his professional status.
In a second decision released on Monday, the tribunal also upheld allegations that Spicer & Oppenheim, now part of Deloitte & Touche, failed to question liabilities in the accounts of Atlantic Computers before it crashed in 1989. The tribunal ordered Spicers to pay costs of #100,000.
The decisions follow two of the longest investigations conducted by the JDS and, in both cases, come after lengthy reports by the Department of Trade and Industry.
In each case, the main protagonists were thrown out of the English ICA.
However, the ability of the tribunal to fine Spicers was denied by a 1989 rule which restricted its powers to dispense censures, reprimands and admonishments.
Chartered accountant Michael Stoney, a former director of Mirror Group, was on the board when the group was floated in 1991. Immediately after the float, he was party to obtaining a #50m loan for MGN from Bankers Trust.
He then took part in the loan’s conversion into US dollars and its transfer to a subsidiary of the privately owned Robert Maxwell Group.
He failed to tell the group’s board or accounting staff of the transaction and allowed it to be omitted from MGN’s financial report in October that year. He also failed to inform the liquidators about the loan after Maxwell’s death.
Jonathan Ford, finance director of Maxwell-related Bishopsgate International Investment Management, was admonished after he misled auditors over the sale of 40% of the company’s shares.
Spicer & Oppenheim was severely criticised by the DTI’s report on the collapse of computer leasing company Atlantic Computers and the subsequent insolvency of its parent company, British & Commonwealth.
The JDS censured the firm and threw out of the English ICA former chief executive of British & Commonwealth, Peter Goldie. He failed to disclose the massive contingent liabilities built up by Atlantic to the board of British & Commonwealth or its auditors.
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