News Roundup Thursday 9th May 2019



Banks accused over tax scam role

City AM carries details of a documents obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which suggest banks enabled fraudsters to steal billions of pounds of public money through VAT scams in 2009. Allegations against Deutsche Bank, RBS and Citibank say they, and brokers, did not do enough to ensure carbon credits they traded were not connected to fraud. The paper notes that Grant Thornton is acting on behalf of companies attempting to recover money.

City AM, Page: 6

IHT concern over probate delays

Jonathan Ames in the Times looks at technology issues at the probate registry, with lawyers saying grants of probate are taking up to 12 weeks to be issued when they would normally take about ten days after application. This, Mr Ames offers, means grieving relatives face delays selling properties that they inherit, with the money from sales often crucial to beneficiaries required to pay inheritance tax.

The Times, Page: 14

Stamp duty break would ease crisis – Saga

Financial services firm Saga says a stamp duty break for over-50s looking to downsize would help ease the housing crisis by freeing up family homes.

Daily Mirror, Page: 17


Banks block committee of creditors

Barclays and HSBC have vetoed the creation of a committee of creditors to Stonebeach, the business that operated Patisserie Valerie, with this reportedly angering other creditors. The committee, says the Times’ Tabby Kinder, could have appointed a second administrator to explore legal action against Patisserie’s auditor Grant Thornton. Administrator KPMG said it would “not be appropriate” for it to consider bringing a legal claim against Grant Thornton as it is audited by the firm.

The Times, Page: 38

Kraft Heinz to restate earnings

Kraft Heinz will restate accounts for 2016, 2017 and the first three quarters of 2018 after an internal investigation prompted by a Securities and Exchange Commission subpoena uncovered serious accounting problems. Executives say the financial errors did not amount to “a quantitatively material misstatement”.

The Times, Page: 37 Financial Times, Page: 13

Enron boss eyes comeback

With former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling planning a business comeback, the Telegraph’s David Millward looks at the firm’s collapse, noting that Arthur Andersen, which signed off the accounts, was blamed for what was regarded as the biggest auditing failure in history, with it eventually going out of business, turning the Big Five into the Big Four.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4

Record store losses

In an insight into the climate for retailers, Matthew Caines in the Telegraph cites PwC research which reveals that 5,833 high street shops had to close their doors last year, with 3,372 openings over the same period meaning a record net loss of stores.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 7


AI boost for capital SMEs

Small firms in London are to be given a boost, with Mayor Sadiq Khan announcing that 200 small businesses in the capital will receive a share of £200,000 to enhance their use of AI. Mr Khan said London is “a leading hub for innovation,” with some of the advances being made “revolutionising how business is done.” He added: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and I firmly believe these innovations should be available to companies of all sizes, not just the ones with the deepest pockets.”

City AM, Page: 13


The wealthy are increasingly interested in ESG

Matthew Vincent in the FT says environmental, social and governance factors mean certain investments are deemed unacceptable by most wealth managers, adding that ESG has also become a mainstream concern for clients.

Financial Times


Uncertainty remains and confidence dips

Research from Deloitte shows that uncertainty is rising within the Eurozone, with chief financial officers less eager to increase capital investment than they were in the autumn. Across Eurozone economies, the level of uncertainty among finance directors rose from 62% to 65%, while over the past six months the rate improved from 65% to 61% in countries outside the bloc, such as Britain. The survey saw Deloitte poll 1,473 chief financial officers to gauge their levels of uncertainty. Elsewhere, the ICAEW’s latest business monitor shows that confidence among firms edged lower to -16.6 in the three months to April 18, down from -16.4 in the last quarter.

The Times, Page: 38 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4 City AM, Page: 2, 10

Brexit could hit low import costs

Analysis by UHY shows that Britain paid 0.5% in duties on its imports in the 2017/18 financial year, compared to 2.3% for the US and China’s 2.2%. Britain paid $126m less in import duties across 2017/18 than it did in the previous financial year. UHY believes Brexit could see import costs rise, saying: “The UK has been a major beneficiary of zero import duties within the European Union, and low duties on imports from many of the EU’s trading partners.”

I, Page: 40 The Scotsman, Page: 37 City AM, Page: 10


Band’s accountant jailed

[No SMOKE ON THE WATER without fire]

Dipak Shanker Rao, who served as rock band Deep Purple’s accountant for 20 years, has been jailed for six years after siphoning off more than £2m from the group.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 10 The Times, Page: 4

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward