Called to account: August 2014

Disciplinary action by the Financial Reporting Council leads to fine for ex Bradford and Bingley FD while former KPMG accountant caught up in trafficking gang found guilty

Christopher Willford, the former group finance director of Bradford and Bingley plc (BBG), has been fined £13,000 and issued with a reprimand by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) after an investigation identified failings in his actions during a rights issues at the bank in 2008.

The FRC’s investigation, which was opened earlier this year, concluded that Willford, who is a member of CIMA, failed to have proper regard to the available financial information and its relevance to the rights issue being planned by BBG and failed to advise the board appropriately.

It follows on from an investigation by the Financial Services Authority (now the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)) which focused on Willford’s actions between 16 and 19 May 2008, while the bank was preparing for a rights issue at the height of the financial crisis.

The FCA found that he did not adequately review the financial information he received on 16 May 2008, and as a result he failed to appreciate from his review of the draft April 2008 Group Results pack and mortgage impairment paper that those documents indicated a possible material change in the financial outlook for BBG.

In particular, the mortgage impairment paper stated that the provisional full year impairment forecast was £106m, which was £49.5m above the forecast of £56.5 m contained in BBG’s published three year plan. The FCA said that Willford failed to advise the board of the deteriorating financial outlook of BBG and to ensure that any necessary follow up work to confirm the recent financial performance of BBG, and the outlook for its future performance, was urgently carried out.

As a result, the FCA concluded that Willford’s conduct fell short of its regulatory standards for approved persons and fined him £30,000. The FRC has now said the adverse findings of the FCA are conclusive evidence of misconduct by Willford for the purposes of the FRC Accountancy Scheme.

Under a settlement agreed with the FRC, Willford will pay a fine of £13,000, which has been adjusted by the maximum 35% from the original £20,000 charge to reflect his agreement to settle at the earliest point. Willford will also receive a reprimand and pay £250 for the executive counsel’s costs for the investigation.

Ex Fisher Phillips partner admits £2m theft

The four-week trial of an accountant accused of fraud and thefts totalling £2m folded dramatically on its second day when – after earlier pleading not guilty – accountant Adam Kenneth Woricker changed his plea and admitted to 32 charges involving theft of £2m.

The 41-year-old, an ACA and former partner at accountancy firm Fisher Phillips in North London was sentenced to eight years in prison last month at the Chelmsford Crown Court.

He received four years imprisonment for theft from investors and four years for the thefts involving his employers and for forgery elements of the case. The sentences are to be served consecutively.

He left his firm after the fraud came to light at the end of June 2012.

The court heard details of the fraud where Woricker’s victims included his own clients, a group of churches and high profile writer and film maker, Hanif Kurieishi.

He had stolen various amounts after approaching clients of Fisher Phillips where he was a partner.

His counsel, James Keogh told the court that Woricker had been ‘hit by a tidal wave of reality’ which led to the sudden change of plea.

He said Woricker had written him a note saying: ‘Please stop this. I am sorry. I am upset. I apologise to everyone in court for wasting their time.’

Accountant guilty of sex trafficking

A former senior manager in the enterprise risk services team at Deloitte’s Manchester office led a double life as a sex trafficker and was secretly part of a criminal gang which tricked woman into coming to Britain where they were forced to have sex with up to 20 men a day, a court has heard.

Kunal Chaudhary was found guilty following a trial at Croydon Crown Court where he was convicted of conspiracy to traffic persons into the UK for sexual exploitation, conspiracy to control prostitution and concealing criminal property. He is due to be sentenced with his co-defendants at a later date.

Almost all the women who were trafficked were from Hungary, often after making online applications for what they thought were administrative, cleaning and babysitting jobs.

Detective sergeant Alan Clark, of the Metropolitan Police's Trafficking and Kidnap Unit, said that the women had come to the UK seeking regular employment.

‘Instead, they found themselves trapped and at the mercy of this abusive group. The group applied a cold business mentality to their crime, treating women as no more than a commodity. We found what can only be described as a centre of operations at a semi-detached house in Brent Cross. There were in excess of 40 mobile phones being used to take calls for victims housed across London,’ he said.

The gang booked flights for at least 120 women who were met at Stansted airport and then forced into prostitution at brothels around London where they charged clients between £30 and £100 an hour. The criminals held on to their passports to exert further control over them.

A spokesman for Deloitte said: ‘Kunal Chaudhary is a former employee of the firm. The police have made it clear that these terrible offences were not in any way connected with his employment at Deloitte. As soon as the charges were confirmed, he was suspended without pay and following his conviction he was dismissed without notice.’

Madoff ex-accountant pleads guilty to aiding Ponzi fraud

Bernard Madoff's former accountant Paul Konigsberg plead guilty to charges in connection with the £65bn Ponzi scheme, according to proceedings listed in a court in New York.

Konigsberg entered a guilty plea before US district judge Laura Taylor Swain under a cooperation agreement with the government.

Konigsberg confirmed that he falsified records of a broker-dealer and an investment adviser to help some of Madoff’s clients to backdate trades. However he denied knowledge of Madoff defrauding thousands of customers.

‘I was not aware of Madoff’s horrible and evil Ponzi scheme,’ he said, reading a prepared statement to the court.

Konigsberg agreed to forfeit $4.4m (£2.57m). He faces a maximum prison sentence of 30 years as well as at least $5.5m in penalties.


Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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