Andersen faces sack from SSL

Insiders indicated the Big Five firm’s re-election at the company’s forthcoming annual general meeting on 1 July was in doubt after SSL chairman Stuart Wallis issued a strongly worded-statement.

He said: ‘[The board] is satisfied that the adjustments made in these statements are fairly presented and comply fully with the requirements of all applicable accounting standards.

‘The board does not consider the auditor’s qualification should cast doubt on the accuracy of the financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2001 nor on the comparable period results as restated and included herein.’

Andersen qualified the audit report over prior period adjustments arising from an overstatement following an investigation into a £50m stock error.

However, the firm had given the prior year’s accounts a clean audit report despite the fact massive errors, it later transpired, had occurred during the year. This could influence a decision whether or not Andersen is retained as auditor.

An SSL spokeswoman told the investigation is ongoing and is expected to finish shortly, although SSL does not have a definite date.

She added: ‘When the investigation completes we are likely to give the results to the Serious Fraud Office.’

The SFO said it knew of SSL’s intention to hand over findings, but the company had not contacted it yet. A spokesman said: ‘If SSL were to provide evidential material that there is a fraud then quite clearly we would examine it.’

Andersen said it had offered itself for re-election.

SSL, which also manufactures Durex condoms, released annual results yesterday showing the company had returned to profitability.LinksKPMG probe £50m stock error at SSL

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