Regulator faces criticism over late filings by Bovis

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The Independent Online
THE second-in-command at Companies House faces embarrassment over disclosure that he is also a non-executive director of Bovis Homes, which was being threatened with prosecution for not filing accounts.

Derek Marsh is director of operations and marketing at Companies House, which was pursuing Bovis because the accounts of seven subsidiaries were overdue.

The matter has been taken up by Labour's spokesman on Wales, Rhodri Morgan. 'I find it amazing that someone who is involved in regulating companies can get into such a conflict of interest,' he said.

Mr Marsh, 46, was a vocal critic of failure to file statutory documents, and welcomed the introduction in July of new penalties for defaulting companies.

Bovis is owned by Lord Sterling's P&O shipping and property group. .

The registrar of companies, David Durham, sent a letter to the legal department of Bovis on 12 June this year. It said: 'As the accounts for these companies are already overdue, there is no provision for an extension of time to be granted. However, if I can have your assurance that the outstanding accounts will be delivered no later than 14 August 1992, I am prepared to delay prosecution action against individual directors for this period.

'You should, however, be aware that each set of accounts delivered late after 1 July will be subject to a late filing penalty.'

Although at least two of the subsidiaries filed later than 14 August, Companies House refused to comment on whether legal proceedings were started.

Mr Durham said: 'If you are trying to say whether I made a special case for Bovis, the answer is no. I will pursue anyone who is late filing accounts.'

Even though Bovis missed the August deadline, Mr Durham said there was nothing to gain from prosecution once the subsidiaries eventually filed.

He did not think there was any conflict of interest in Mr Marsh being a director of companies he regulates.

Bovis said Mr Marsh became a director in February, but did not sit on the boards of the subsidiaries. A spokesman, Andrew Bond, said Mr Marsh would not have been involved in the preparation of accounts. .

Neil Hamilton, the corporate affairs minister, said in a written reply to a Commons question by Mr Morgan: 'Guidance is given to ensure that if a conflict of interest arises with his or her official duties, the individual will stand aside.'