Accountancy 'big four' to face Lords inquiry

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The Independent Online

The British accountancy industry's leading firms are to be called before the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, which has been charged with investigating their role in the auditing market.

Heads of the so-called big four – Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG – have all been contacted with a view to them appearing in person.

The inquiry, which will investigate the dominant market position enjoyed by a limited number of firms, will be chaired by Lord MacGregor, a former agriculture minister in the Thatcher government.

Lord MacGregor said: "Auditing is a very high-profile issue following the financial crises and we will seek to establish whether the market dominance by a small number of auditors contributed to a failure to pick up on unsustainable risks being taken on by international banks."

Other members of the committee include the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Lawson, and Lord Levene, the chairman of Lloyd's of London.