Jim Armitage: Watchdog moves so slowly it still isn't wise after the event
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Thursday 05 December 2013
Outlook If you thought the wheels of justice grind slowly, wait till you get a load of the Financial Reporting Council.
The regulator of Britain's company audits has proudly announced it has launched an investigation into the conduct of Christopher Moore and Mark Woodbridge, formerly of software company Torex Retail.
The FRC, it seems, is concerned that the pair might have not behaved altogether appropriately with the accounts of that company. It's not sure, but, having weighed up the pros and cons, thinks it might be worth taking a look. Turn over a few stones, you know the kind of thing.
All well and good, except that Mr Moore and Mr Woodbridge were jailed in January and June of this year for conspiracy to defraud shareholders in 2006 and 2007.
Mr Moore, the former chairman of Oldham Athletic, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 months for each of his two offences in January. Mr Woodbridge got a total of three years and 10 months after being found guilty in a trial in June. The fraud involved artificially inflating the amount of cash the company had in its books. Mr Moore admitted creating false documents to make it look like Torex had £6.5m more than it actually did. Mr Woodbridge conspired on one of those frauds and falsely inflated revenues by a further £2m.
Extremely serious stuff.
The SFO investigation cost £1.1m.
So why, bearing in mind that the events took place nearly seven years ago and the last director to be prosecuted was jailed six months ago, has the FRC only decided now the pair might have done something wrong?
"It has taken us a little while to see if we have enough evidence," says a spokeswoman.
I wouldn't dream of prejudging the outcome of this investigation, but, were the FRC to find anything amiss, the pair could find themselves on the end of a "severe reprimand". They might even face a temporary suspension of their FRC membership. Mucking out the pigsties at Ford Open Prison, or wherever Mr Woodbridge currently abides, must seem like a breeze in comparison.
- 1 Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
- 2 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 3 Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
iJobs Money & Business
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...
£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...