US judge orders retrial of Price Waterhouse case

AN Arizona judge yesterday ordered a retrial of an action by Standard Chartered Bank against Price Waterhouse that led to a damages award of dollars 338m against the accountancy firm, writes Peter Rodgers.

Judge John R Sticht, of the superior court of Arizona, said the jury verdicts were so 'irreconcilably inconsistent' as to be blatantly erroneous. The record award has been hanging over the US arm of the accountancy firm but Shaun O'Malley, senior partner, said: 'Relieved of the burden of this unfair and unjustified verdict, we move forward more determined than ever and confident that justice will prevail.'

The case concerned Standard's claim for losses arising from the purchase of United Bank of Arizona, audited by Price Waterhouse. The bank said it had not taken any credit for the award in its accounts but would press on with the action. It was confident it would recover the full amount with interest. Standard also announced a sale and leaseback deal on 13 buildings in Hong Kong to realise pounds 64m, which will give a pounds 55m boost to the bank's capital.

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