PracticeConsultingWrit reopens Barlow Clowes affair

Writ reopens Barlow Clowes affair

The ICAEW is suing accountant David Mitchell for £127,000 following an inquiry into his involvement in the Barlow Clowes affair.

Mitchell was expelled from the institute after refusing to appear before its committee of inquiry into the Barlow Clowes affair in 1995, according to a High Court writ. Mitchell was ordered to pay an Pounds 87,000 share of the Pounds 3.56m costs of the inquiry.

But despite being sent a committee report in 1995, he has failed to pay the money and now faces legal action.

Barlow Clowes was a financial adviser specialising in financial products for pensioners. In the late 1980s the company collapsed after money raised from pensioners, supposedly to be invested in offshore gilts, disappeared.

Criticism of Mitchell was made in a draft report for the executive committee of the Joint Disciplinary Scheme in 1993, and he was warned criticisms could result in an adverse finding against him, it is alleged.

He commented on the draft report in a letter from his solicitor, Pickering Kenyon in July 1993, and after the committee made an adverse finding against him in 1994, he replied in writing, making representations in mitigation, the writ says.

Mitchell refused to appear before the committee but offered to reply to questions in writing.

In 1992 he was informed the complexity and nature of his involvement made his committee appearance essential to establish his professional and business conduct, efficiency and competence, and that of others, claims the writ.Mitchell told Accountancy Age: ‘I attempted to blow the whistle on the whole thing before it was investigated and no one listened. Now they’re [ the ICAEW] suing me for Pounds 127,000, being my share of the inquiry which the institute initiated after the horse had bolted as it were.

‘All I failed to do is refuse to go to England physically. I offered to answer any questions in writing.’

Mitchell did not appear before the investigating committee, which decided to expel him for refusing to co-operate with its disciplinary scheme, and ordered him to pay Pounds 87,000 towards costs of the Barlow Clowes inquiry.

Mitchell, of 20 Chemin des Rasses, Veyrier, Geneva, Switzerland, should have paid the money in 1995 but has failed to do so, the writ says.

Now the institute is suing him for Pounds 87,000 as well as interest amounting to Pounds 40,062.90 and continuing to mount up at the rate of Pounds 19.07 a day.

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