Atlantic firms face inquiry

Spicer & Pegler, now part of the accountants Touche Ross, and KPMG face investigation by the Institute of Chartered Accountants over the collapse of Atlantic Computers, following publication of the Department of Trade and Industry report into Atlantic three months ago.

The institute has asked its Joint Disciplinary Scheme (JDS) to investigate 'matters concerning the professional and business conduct, efficiency and competence of members of the institute and members' firms' arising from the DTI report. The institute did not name any firms.

The report itself said: 'We are critical of the standard of auditing of Atlantic's financial statements carried out by Spicers.' The report also condemned KPMG, auditor of Atlantic's European subsidiaries, for not telling Spicer about significant off-balance sheet items.

The Atlantic investigation will add to the debate on the effectiveness of the JDS and self-regulation of accountants in general.

Price Waterhouse, former auditor of BCCI, threw doubt on the JDS when it successfully applied to the courts for a stay against any investigation concerning the bank pending litigation over the case.