Accountancy firms find themselves in hot water

Industry news roundup: week ended 12 Sept 2013:

It’s tough being an accountant these days in the UK – and it doesn’t help that accountancy firms seem to find themselves in serious hot water all too easily.

First of all, it turns out that accountants in the UK are pretty much sunk if they engage in tax avoidance for their clients and claim they did so out of some fiduciary duty, according to a leading law firm. On top of that, the firms themselves can get it just as much hot water, considering that they have no duty towards their shareholders to maximise return on investment by taking steps to deprive HMRC of its customary pound of flesh.

Honestly if you ask me this whole ‘fiduciary duty’ argument was balderdash right from the beginning. It’s the kind of corporate double-speak that lets businesses and disreputable accountants get away with legal murder, and I’m quite chuffed to discover that the practice will come screeching to a halt. Sure, I’m sure there are some particularly stubborn sods out there that will cling on to their old ways, but they’re quite likely to get into legal trouble as a result – and have to pay massive fines to boot!

Speaking of eye-watering penalty payments, Deloitte has been slapped with an absolutely incredible £14 million fine for its role in managing the disastrous crash-and-burn of MG Rover. It turns out that the Financial Reporting Council took issue with the way the accountancy firm handled conflicts of interest; in other words, it didn’t. Instead, it advised four former MG Rover directors whilst also advising the now-defunct company at the very same time.

I’m sorry, but even a schoolboy could tell you that it’s not fair to play one side against the other for your own profit. Did Deloitte truly think it wouldn’t be caught out for pulling a ridiculous stunt like this? I sure hope the firm got their money’s worth out of representing both those directors and MG Rover, considering the cost of that fine it will have to pay.

In typical arrogant fashion, Deloitte has protested the official decision, claiming that it did absolutely nothing wrong. Sorry lads but you’ll have to pull the other one – if you’re done trying to take the piss out of the Financial Reporting Council, you can make out a few cheques. Don’t be tardy, now!

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