Azlan under investigation

Azlan under investigation

The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into troubled computer distributor Azlan. The SFO action will centre on suspected false accounting offences in the year to 5 April 1997 totalling more than #1m. It follows a critical report by KPMG’s forensic audit team which uncovered management failure, wrongdoing and possible ‘improper behaviour’.

SFO must cut budget

The Serious Fraud Office could face a cash crisis after the government announced its budget would be cut by 9%. The SFO, which has a growing caseload, is expected to make ‘efficiency and effectiveness savings’ in its administration.

APB considers forecasts

Auditors will have to consider the possibility of auditing profits forecasts and other financial projections filed with stock exchanges, said a report published by the Auditing Practices Board yesterday. The APB published the discussion document to tie in with work on an international auditing standard, and is available by telephoning 01908 238000.

Free software possibility

The government is to consider making the self-assessment software issued free by the Inland Revenue to accountants and tax advisers, available to the public, Lord McIntosh of Haringey said last week.

AIM reacts to tax change

Companies trading on the Alternative Investment Market took a battering when re-investment tax relief on shares was officially abolished on 6 April. Almost half of AIM’s 310 companies qualified for the relief, which was used to attract investors. One of the largest losers was Higham Systems, whose shares fell from 145p to 125p. Geoff Edwards, tax partner at Grant Thornton, said: ‘It’s a temporary glitch. The market will tail off, but recover as investors stay in for the long term, rather than just using it as a tax shelter.’

Receiverships decrease

The number of companies going into receivership in the first three months of the year fell by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 1997, according to figures compiled by KPMG. The firm recorded 256 receiverships since January, with just the South East and South West recording an increase.

Haines gets global boost

Haines Watts has joined BKR International in a bid to boost its global standing. BKR’s network includes representatives in 100 countries and a turnover of more than $400m, giving the UK firm access to its expertise worldwide.

Europe leads UK in MBOs

Management buyouts in continental Europe soared by almost 100% last year. Research by ‘European Buyout Review’, sponsored by Price Waterhouse, revealed a total MBO value of #11.9bn, with the value of continental deals exceeding the UK for the first time since 1994. France, with #3.2bn worth of deals, led the field with Germany second on #2.3bn.

Survey shows pessimism

Most small companies expect to cut the number of employees during the first half of 1998, according to a NatWest survey. The percentage of businesses expecting sales to be higher this year has plummeted from 24% to 8%.

‘Soft landing’ due

The strong pound is not harming the domestic economy, despite damaging exports, a survey of financial directors and managing directors by analysts Dun & Bradstreet revealed. The survey, taken after the Budget, found that 60% of businesses expect an increase in new orders and think the economy is heading towards a soft landing.

Accountants rated lower

The annual Baker Tilly and ‘The Lawyer’ survey found that solicitors were less impressed with the value of accountants’ advice on corporate recovery, litigation support and partnership tax, compared to last year.

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