Monday, July 25, 2022

KPMG Sanctioned and Fined £14M

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) today announces sanctions against KPMG LLP (KPMG), a former KPMG partner and four former KPMG employees, following an investigation undertaken pursuant to the Accountancy Scheme. The investigation related to the provision of false and misleading information and documents to the FRC in connection with the FRC’s Audit Quality Reviews of two audits carried out by KPMG: the audit of the financial statements of Regenersis plc for the period ended 30 June 2014 (“the Regenersis audit”); and the audit of the financial statements of Carillion plc for the period ended 31 December 2016 (“the Carillion audit”). 

An independent Disciplinary Tribunal made findings of Misconduct following a five-week hearing during January and February 2022 and sanctions were determined following a hearing in May 2022.
KPMG admitted its liability for the acts of all the individuals and that those acts amounted to Misconduct.

Sanctions

KPMG has been:

  • fined £20 million, reduced to £14.4 million to reflect KPMG’s self-reporting, co-operation, and admissions;
  • severely reprimanded; and
  • ordered to appoint an independent reviewer to conduct a review to consider the effectiveness of KPMG’s current AQR policies and procedures in supporting high quality engagement with the AQR inspectors.
 
Mr Meehan has been excluded from membership of the ICAEW for a period of 10 years, and fined £250,000.

Mr Wright has been excluded from membership of the ICAEW for a period of 8 years, and fined £45,000.

Mr Bennett has been excluded from membership of the ICAEW for a period of 8 years and fined £40,000.

Mr Kitchen has been excluded from membership of the ICAEW for a period of 7 years, and fined £30,000.

Mr Paw was severely reprimanded.

Costs

KPMG agreed to pay £3.95 million towards Executive Counsel’s costs of the investigation together with the costs of the Tribunal.

 

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Friday, May 20, 2022

ICAEW Trousers £14M Carillion Fine - "Shameful!"

 


The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is once again facing a barrage of criticism after it was confirmed this week that KPMG’s £14.4m Carillion audit fine will be paid to ICAEW because the regulatory action fell within the accountancy scheme, which was introduced in 2004.  

As KPMG tries to repair its damaged reputation, politicians and ICAEW’s own members are questioning why the professional body is retaining all of the fines. 

Accountancy scheme 

In recent years, ICAEW has received KPMG’s £13m fine from the Silentnight insolvency and Deloitte’s record £15m fine over the audit of ill-fated software firm Autonomy.

With costs included, and the addition of the recent Carillion fine, the combined total from these fines exceeds £50m – and if you were to look further back, ICAEW has gathered £123.4m since 2004.

However, ICAEW can lay claim to the fines because, under the funding arrangements, professional bodies pick up the cost of investigations by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in advance. 

In return professional bodies get the money from any fines, rather than that pot of money being used as compensation. Alternatively, though, when a case is brought to tribunal by the regulator and there isn’t a fine, the professional body bears the cost instead. ICAEW also points out that even where fines have been imposed, some cost orders do not fully reimbuse professional bodies for the whole costs of the investigation.  

The institute also stresses that the money received from fines is not used to offset ICAEW’s operational expenditure but is “allocated to our strategic reserves and it supports our wider commitment to serve the public interest, as required by the terms of our Royal Charter”.

While ICAEW has retained the costs, as it was legally entitled to, the move has roused similar criticism that was aimed at the institute when it received the KPMG’s Silentnight £13m fine, rather than the pension holders who were set to lose around 30% of their pot due to the mattress company falling into insolvency. That incident prompted The Times’s columnist Patrick Hosking to fume, “the more dishonesty and fraud discovered in the profession, the more profit the institute stands to make”.

Criticism

The pressure on ICAEW comes as KPMG agreed to pay the fine, reduced from £20m, after a five-week trial found five former KPMG auditors guilty of forging documents

KPMG has previously been accused of failing to maintain professional independence as the auditor of Carillion and missing multiple “red flags”. Creditors claim to have lost billions of pounds in dividends, advisory fees and losses as it continued to trade.

But the fine going to ICAEW has only reignited the condemnation previously heard during the Silentnight episode. Former pensions minister Baroness Altmann has added her voice to the calls for the money to go to the creditors and not ICAEW, saying: “Something has gone wrong here.” 

Meanwhile, ICAEW members have also expressed concern over how the perception of the institute keeping the proceeds will tarnish the brand. Chartered accountant and ICAEW critic Ken Frost was particularly scathing. “I think it is shameful that my professional body seeks to profit from the wrongdoing of member firms,” said Frost. “It is, of course, quite correct that the ICAEW issued the fine. However, it is shameful that they have decided to ‘trouser it’ like a spiv City trader from the 80s.

“Additionally, it beggars belief that the ICAEW thinks that this won’t damage their brand!”

A different approach

The accountancy scheme is set to wind down soon as part of a government reform and the funding arrangements are also expected to switch to the government. 

Despite the removal of the accountancy scheme, professional bodies must continue to fund investigations of all new complaints brought by the FRC under the audit enforcement procedure.

An ICAEW spokesperson said that the professional body would welcome the rationalisation of the “different schemes which now exist to pay for this aspect of the FRC’s regulatory work.” 

They continued: “We do not believe that any of the professional bodies would object to being removed entirely from the funding process, with all fines in future going to HM Treasury. We would be happy to discuss this with BEIS [the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy], the FRC or – when it is eventually established – ARGA.”

I have been asked by the ICAEW to point out that the ICAEW did not issue the fine.  The fine was issued by an independent tribunal of the FRC and the size of any fine was entirely their decision.

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Friday, March 11, 2022

Tax Investigation Insurance


 

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Monday, February 21, 2022

Richard Murphy FCA Calls Accountants Corrupt


 

Badly drafted laws will always be legitimate targets for human ingenuity, it is not a sign of corruption that people look for ways and means within the law to reduce their tax bills!

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Friday, February 11, 2022

The ICAEW's Nice Little Earner


The ICAEW has defended its decision not to donate £13.5m it received in fines from the Silentnight insolvency to the bankrupt firm’s pension fund following a barrage of criticism.

Political and media pressure to compensate the bed company’s pension holders with the award from the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) prompted the Institute to respond that it had not been gifted a “windfall” and that the costs of its investigations are rarely reclaimed.

KPMG was sanctioned in August 2021 over its conduct in the sale of Silentnight, which became insolvent, as the Silentnight Pension Scheme ended up in the Pension Protection Fund.

David Costley-Wood, former partner and head of KPMG Manchester Restructuring, was severely reprimanded and penalised £500,000 for his role in the sale and excluded from the ICAEW for 13 years.

The ICAEW board had voted to retain the proceeds of the fine, as it was legally entitled to, rather than reimburse Silentnight’s pension fund. In response, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking criticised the decision, stating that Silentnight’s staff had been “ripped off by one of the body’s own members”.

Writing to APPG Banking co-chairman Kevin Hollinrake MP, ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza said that, although the board “had sympathy” with members of the Silentnight Pension Scheme who may have suffered losses, it would not be passing on the £13.5m as compensation.

While the ICAEW board considered the merits of the request, it said the Accountancy Scheme, which details how cases are dealt with by the FRC, “was never intended to operate as a compensation scheme for third parties who may have suffered losses as a result of actions of ICAEW members and member firms.” 

What will the ICAEW do with its windfall?

Will it reduce members' subscriptions?

Of course it won't! 

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