Regulation – JDS to probe Atlantic scam

Three chartered accountants face a disciplinary hearing by the profession’s senior watchdog next month over their involvement in the disastrous collapse of Atlantic Computers, writes Lucinda Kemeny.

Nicholas Scott, John Tompkins and Sien Yin Cheng Kai On, all former directors of Atlantic, face a Joint Disciplinary Scheme tribunal on 3 June. Proceedings had been held back while the department of trade and industry completed its investigations.

The 1989 purchase of Atlantic, an apparently successful leasing company, led to the 1990 collapse of conglomerate British & Commonwealth, with debts of £1.5bn.

A DTI report revealed creative accounting in the financial statements had presented Atlantic as a success story. But it had huge liabilities which it attempted to hide through an aggressive growth policy.

The three have now been disqualified as company directors, enabling the JDS to proceed.

This is the second investigation carried out into Atlantic conducted by the JDS. The first looked at the work of Spicer & Oppenheim, now part of Deloitte & Touche, which audited Atlantic.

A tribunal last year upheld allegations that the firm had failed to question liabilities in the accounts and it was ordered to pay costs of £100,000.

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