Cantillon: Deloitte €41,000 fine a long time coming

Deloitte first of so-called big four financial services firms to be censured by Carb

The Central Bank’s research into the 2012 collapse of Bloxhams is reportedly holding up Carb’s assessment of Deloitte’s performance in relation to that firm. Photoraph: Matt Kavanagh / The Irish Times

The Central Bank’s research into the 2012 collapse of Bloxhams is reportedly holding up Carb’s assessment of Deloitte’s performance in relation to that firm. Photoraph: Matt Kavanagh / The Irish Times

 

The wheels of justice are famously slow to turn, something that applies to investigations by professional bodies into possible failings by their members as well as to the DPP and the law courts.

It emerged at the weekend that Deloitte has become the first of the so-called big four financial services firms to be censured by the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (Carb), a body more known for the slow and opaque querying of the actions of smaller firms and individuals than for poking its nose into the affairs of the accountancy world’s behemoths.

However, the Carb website now shows that costs and fines totalling €41,000 have been levied against Deloitte, along with a “strong reprimand” and a decision (quelle horreur!) to advertise the censure in a coming edition of Accountancy Ireland.

The firm was cited because of something to do with audit work for a client in the 2002-2004 period that “failed to demonstrate the adequacy and sufficiency of the audit work performed to support its audit opinion”. What that means is not at all easy to fathom, and the client, of course, is not mentioned.

According to reports, the client was Läpple Ireland, a subsidiary of a German toolmaker, and the case is linked to the High Court disqualification of former MD John Slattery and the publication of financial statements that mis-stated the true state of affairs of the company.

Deloitte, in a statement to the Sunday Independent, said it had consented to the Carb finding as the issues involved related to something that happened a decade ago. Perhaps if the firm had contested the matter, the finding might not have emerged for some years down the line, which is a sobering thought.

Meanwhile, the slow grind of the wheels of justice is holding up other Carb inquiries, while that of the Central Bank into the 2012 collapse of Bloxhams is reportedly holding up Carb’s assessment of Deloitte’s performance in relation to that firm.

Given the haste with which State institutions and regulatory bodies leap into action when banks and big four accountancy firms find themselves in the spotlight, it is likely that more Carb cases down the tracks could be settled easily, because of their by-then historical nature.

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