The government is considering banning accountants who report to banks on the financial status of companies in trouble from acting as their liquidators. Corporate and consumer affairs minister Kim Howells told MPs: ‘I have sympathy with the approach and I am giving it serious consideration.’ He made the announcement as MPs neared the conclusion of detailed committee debates on the Insolvency Bill, which provides for supervised moratoriums while attempts are made to organise rescues. Earlier, Labour MP Austin Mitchell demanded tougher regulation of the profession to stop practitioners opting for solutions designed to boost fees rather than promote rescues. He received support from Tory MP Richard Page, who said the case for a single regulator needed detailed examination. Page proposed a ban on investigating accountants acting for banks and then later acting as liquidators. Among those who agree are Jeffrey Lampert, chairman of housewares distributor Heritage plc, which went into receivership in 1996. He accuses Grant Thornton of recommending receivership when the company could have survived. Grant Thornton has always denied the allegations.
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