Misconduct findings condemn former top UK accountants

THE ACCOUNTANCY profession has brought to a close one of the darkest chapters in British corporate history with the announcement of findings of professional misconduct against a firm that was formerly one of the UK's leading chartered accountants, and three individuals.

The Joint Disciplinary Scheme last night said its tribunal had censured Spicer & Oppenheim, which subsequently became part of what is now Deloitte & Touche, and ordered it to pay pounds 100,000 towards the costs of its executive counsel after finding evidence of omissions in its audit of Atlantic Computers. Serious contingent liabilities in the 1988 accounts brought down the leasing firm and contributed to the collapse of its parent company, British & Commonwealth Holdings, in 1990.

The tribunal also ordered that Peter Goldie, at the time a director of both companies, be censured and excluded from the Institute of Chartered Accountants for his role in the presentation of Atlantic's misleading 1988 accountants and B&C's misleading 1989 interim statement.

At the same time, the disciplinary scheme, the body that investigates the most serious allegations against members of the accountancy profession, censured two former directors of the group of companies headed by the late Robert Maxwell.

They are Michael Stoney, a director of Mirror Group Newspapers in 1991, and Jonathan Ford, former finance director of the Maxwell-related company London and Bishopsgate Investment Management.