News in brief – 26 November

Raglan audit up for grabs

Raglan Properties is considering tenders from Big Five auditors following a review of PricewaterhouseCoopers’s service. Raglan, which announced #4.6m interim profits last week on a six-month turnover of #31.5m, paid Coopers & Lybrand, now part of PwC, #78,000 in audit fees for the year ended 31 March 1998 and #123,000 for tax advice. A company source said PwC had been invited to re-tender. A decision is expected shortly, when Raglan director of corporate planning Keith Holman returns from the Far East.

Exemption removed The Cayman Islands legislature has removed the exemption for fiscal offences that stopped authorities from co-operating with other jurisdictions. The island authorities will help foreign investigators where the alleged offences are crimes under Cayman Island law.

Chantrey change Chantrey Vellacott has changed its name to Chantrey Vellacott DFK. The London-based firm, ranked 19th in the Accountancy Age Top 50, houses the headquarters of the global network of 135 independent firms.

IASC ends pooling The days of pooling could be numbered, following a decision by the International Accounting Standards Committee to examine new measures to prevent the treatment, which allows US companies to avoid writing off goodwill following mergers. Following criticism from the Securities Exchange Commission, the US Federal Accounting Standards Board will take part in a G4+1 study group.

Unilever prepared Multinational food and detergent group Unilever said in interim results issued this week that the internal compliance phase of its year-2000 programme was 95% complete, covering nearly 100,000 IT systems. Between now and June, it will assess compliance of supply chain partners and infrastructure services. The estimated cost of its year-2000 effort remained #300m, the company reported.

Instability warning The chairman of the International Valuation Standards Committee, Philippe Malaquin, warned last week the International Accounting Standards Committee’s decision to abandon the market value for existing use method in the revised IAS 16 on investment property could lead to financial instability. ‘It may force revaluation of the values currently reflected on the balance sheets of countless enterprises,’ he said.

EC unit to fight fraud The Euoprean Commission is expected to announce a new, independent anti-fraud unit to stem Europe’s multibillion pound losses. A commission spokeswoman confirmed it was to be set up following the European Court of Auditors qualification of the EC’s consolidated accounts last week. Auditors identified irregularities exceeding 4bn ecu (#2.4bn). Commission president Jacques Santer is due to publish a White Paper setting out measures to tighten up the commission’s financial controls, the spokeswoman said.

MoD reveals losses Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, has revealed the Ministry of Defence lost #34.6m on an information technology project that went wrong. Presenting the 1997/1998 MoD appropriation accounts, Sir John said the problem arose from a project aimed at intelligence staff handling classified information. The report highlighted overspending in some areas.

Related reading