No replacement named as HMRC chief Jon Thompson steps down

The head of the HMRC, Sir Jon Thompson, is due to take up his new job as chief executive of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) at the beginning of October but has not been replaced at the tax authority

Thompson told Accountancy Daily that he is due to start with the regulator on 1 October, where he will replace Stephen Haddrill who announced he would be leaving last October after 10 years at the regulator. Thompson will be responsible for leading the regulator’s transition into the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA).

HMRC is still looking for a replacement for the outgoing chief executive and first permanent secretary after over two months. It confirmed that there was no news on a replacement for Thompson but he is due to leave the tax authority 'this Autumn'. When Thompson resigned in mid July, HMRC said the recruitment process for a new CEO would begin shortly and an announcement about a successor would be 'made in due course'. Jim Harra, deputy chief executive, continues to be the department’s lead for exiting the EU, as has been the case since he took over this role in January 2018 after running the business directorate at HMRC.

There is also a senior vacancy to head up the IT team at HMRC as chief digital and information officer Jacky Wright is also leaving HMRC in October, after a two-year secondment from Microsoft to head the tax authority’s digital strategy. Despite knowing about the end date for the secondment, HMRC has still not named a replacement although it said it would name a replacement before she leaves the organisation. Digitisation is critical for the tax authority as it moves all services online.

Meantime, HMRC has named three new board members, Michael Hearty, Paul Morton and Patricial Gallan.

Morton, who was tax director of the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) until 2018, previously had senior tax roles at a number of FTSE 100 companies, including RELX and Shell. He started his career as a tax inspector at HMRC. Hearty will also become chair of the HMRC audit and risk committee.

FRC challenge

Thompson is joining the audit regulator as it comes under increasing fire over its failure to provide robust oversight of the audit profession, highlighted by a litany of major audit failures.

One of Thompson’s first high profile outings as head of the FRC will be before the influential BEIS Committee, chaired by Rachel Reeves MP, which has called up the FRC to explain its actions and awareness of the Thomas Cook financial issues, as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into the auditing and stewardship of the failed tour operator. The hearings are set for mid to late October.

Meantime, business secretary Andrea Leadsom has told the audit regulator to launch an immediate investigation into the auditors of the failed travel company, as well as its stewardship and senior management.

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