Silentnight tribunal hearing set to restart over pension issues

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has confirmed the dates for the next phase of a disciplinary tribunal hearing of a formal complaint under the Accountancy Scheme in respect of KPMG LLP and ICAEW member David Costley-Wood over pensions advice given to bed and mattress specialist, Silentnight

The FRC’s investigation was opened in October 2015 following a referral from the Pensions Regulator.

Due to coronavirus restrictions the resumed hearing will be held remotely on Monday 21 June and Tuesday 22 June 2021 at 9.30am to consider a formal complaint against KPMG LLP and David Costley-Wood, a partner in KPMG LLP and ICAEW member.

The formal complaint relates to the respondents’ conduct in the period August 2010 to April 2011 relating to companies trading under the name Silentnight.

It alleges that KPMG and Costley-Wood advised and/or assisted Silentnight and a third party, and accepted and performed an engagement for Silentnight, in circumstances where their professional judgment was compromised (or was likely to be compromised) and their objectivity was impaired (or was likely to be impaired), contrary to the fundamental principle of objectivity in the ICAEW Code of Ethics.

Part of the hearing will focus on whether KPMG and Costley-Wood knowingly or recklessly assisted with the provision of untrue and/or misleading and/or materially incomplete explanations to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), the Pensions Regulator, Silentnight and the trustees of the Silentnight Pension Scheme in relation to Silentnight, in breach of the fundamental principle of integrity in the ICAEW Code of Ethics.

The hearing will be broadcast by a virtual conferencing facility operated by the International Dispute Resolution Centre, London. The hearing will be live streamed on YouTube, and may be viewed at the following links:

Monday 21 June 2021: day 1

Tuesday 22 June 2021: day 2

Under the Accountancy Scheme the FRC can start a disciplinary investigation in one of two ways: (i) the professional bodies can refer cases to the FRC; and (ii) the FRC may decide of its own accord to investigate a matter. The conduct committee will consider each case identified or referred to it and decide whether or not the criteria for an investigation are met.

The criteria are specified in paragraph 5(1) of the Accountancy Scheme. A member or member firm shall be liable to investigation under this scheme only where, in the opinion of the conduct committee the matter raises or appears to raise important issues affecting the public interest in the UK and there are reasonable grounds to suspect that there may have been misconduct or it appears that the member or member firm has failed to comply with any of their obligations under paragraphs 14(1) or 14(2) of the scheme.

Investigations are conducted by executive counsel and the enforcement division.

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