BusinessCompany NewsWickes finance man was ex-Andersen

Wickes finance man was ex-Andersen

The close relationship between Wickes and its auditor fell under the spotlight yesterday after it was revealed that one of the five former executives of the DIY chain accused of fraud had been a manager with Andersen.

Geoffrey Battersby, the former financial controller of Wickes who, along with four other former executives, is charged with fraudulent trading and issuing false statements, was a member of the Andersen team which audited the DIY retailer prior to the alleged fraud, a court heard yesterday.

The disclosure will provide fresh embarrassment for Andersen, already under fire in the US over Enron, although the Big Five firm is not accused of any wrong-doing.

The five former executives are accused of perpetrating a fraud between January 1994 and June 1996, inflating profits by £22m to disguise trading problems and improve their own remuneration, Southwark crown court heard.

The five – former group chairman and chief executive Henry Sweetbaum, Trefor Llewwellyn, the former group finance director, Leslie Rosenthal, the former group trading director responsible for buying, Terence Carson, the former finance director of Wickes Building Supplies, and Battersby – all deny the charges.

The trial continues.

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