Audit – Tory accounts ‘concealed’

PricewaterhouseCoopers was caught in more political crossfire this week, when Labour and the Liberal Democrats attacked the late publication of the Conservative party’s annual report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 1998.

The accounts, which showed a balance sheet deficit of #3.8m, were approved by the Conservative Party board on 7 September and signed by PwC auditors on 14 September but published last Friday. Trade minister Ian McCartney said the accounts were ‘so embarrassing’, the Tories delayed them for two months ‘in the hope no one will notice’.

PwC’s fees for the 1998 audit and tax advice were #56,000; they were #129,000 in 1997.

‘It makes you think PwC is using it as a loss leader, or has been overtaken by a charitable spasm for a lame dog,’ said Labour MP Austin Mitchell.

Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Malcolm Bruce said: ‘I cannot see why the Tories should not have published their accounts on time. If they have less to count, why should it take longer to count?’

But Tory accountant MP Nick Gibb countered: ‘These accounts have come out within nine months. I do not see any problem with that. Ours have taken the same length of time as Labour’s.’

PwC declined to comment.

Related reading