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The Independent Online
NEW LABOUR is about to tell the accountancy profession whether it can go on regulating itself, free from some new-fangled watchdog. The bean counters will not be amused, therefore, by the antics of Austin Mitchell, the maverick Labour MP, who is raking up a murky episode concerning the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

Almost exactly a year ago ACCA held a disciplinary hearing, at which it admonished its own Vice-President Jim Waits, ordered him to pay costs of pounds 3,100 and decreed that the decision be published in the professional and local press. Mr Waits had already resigned over remarks he made at an EGM in November 1996 when he criticised Prem Sikka, a professor of accountancy at Essex University and outspoken critic of ACCA. Mr Waits accused Mr Sikka of being anti-Semitic for seeking EGMs on Saturdays, and suggested the professor form his own organisation: "Worldwide Association of Non-Chartered Certified Accountants." (Work it out.)

Fast forward to this February. Mr Mitchell wrote to Anthea Rose of ACCA, asking whether Mr Waits's admonishment had been publicised in the association's magazine, Certified Accountant, as ordered. Ms Rose wrote back to him on 10 February: "Unfortunately it would appear from checking back copies of Certified Accountant for the relevant period that details of the decision did not subsequently appear in the magazine."

"Notwithstanding the fact that the relevant staff in the legal and PR departments are no longer employed by ACCA, I have investigated the matter and it appears that there may have been a regrettable administrative failure in this respect." Mr Mitchell fired back on 19 February: "I am astonished by [your letter's] contents." The MP went on to berate ACCA for failure to communicate with its overseas members, failure to hold "open" hearings, and much more besides. No doubt Ms Rose and her colleagues at ACCA will be hoping that Mr Mitchell's influence in New Labour is as limited as it appears.

ON the day that the Bank of England decided to leave interest rates unchanged, Gordon Brown advertised for a trader in interest rate derivatives. Is the Chancellor trying to second guess what Eddie George's next move will be?

In fact the ad was placed by Gordon Brown Associates, City Recruitment Consultants, on the Cityscreen on-line magazine carried by Reuters. A spokesman for the agency said yesterday: "We do hopefully benefit from the name recognition. Our owner George Brown (no relation) finds it very amusing."

"On the other hand, its OK now because the Chancellor is quite popular in the City. Whether it would effect us if he became unpopular I don't know."

COLT Telecommunications, which provides telephony services to the City and other financial centres, has appointed a new managing director for the UK, Jonathan Watts.

Mr Watts, a Lancastrian with 20 years experience in the computers and telecoms industries, was previously managing director of NB3, the largest single Public Access Mobile Radio operator in Europe. NB3 provides radio services for over 1,000 Tesco delivery vehicles, for instance.

The Hatfield graduate says his brief at Colt is to "manage growth and maintain our high levels of service to customers." He adds that Colt is more nimble than its larger rivals such as BT. Not difficult, I would have thought.

CHRISTIAN BARTHOLIN started on Monday as a managing director of Barclays Capital in Paris, where he will promote the full range of the investment bank's services to business clients in France.

Mr Bartholin spent the previous eight years as managing director for the French operations of Bank of America in Paris. Between 1974 and 1986 he worked for Citibank in Paris, Casablanca and New York. He has an MBA from Columbia Business School.

MEANWHILE over at NatWest, the bank's Global Financial Markets (GFM) division has recruited Rafiq Manji, 32, to be its Senior Proprietary Trader.

Mr Rafic previously worked at Lehman Brothers and Bankers Trust. NatWest formed GFM last August to run its treasury, foreign exchange, interest rate trading, money market and currency options operations. In contrast to NatWest Markets, which has more or less been completely sold off, GFM now claims to be the biggest business of its kind in Europe, and the second biggest in the world. At least Lord Alexander will have something to bequeath to the next NatWest Chairman.

RENTOKIL Initial said Roger Payne, a regional director, will be appointed finance director designate from the end of 1999 and will replace the present incumbent Christopher Pearce when he retires at the end of 2000. Rentokil added that Ted Brown,Managing Director Region IV will be appointed chief operating officer, as from 1 July and the managing directors of the five regions will report directly to him.