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Oops! Meet the red-faced regulator
Simon Dingemans, Issue 1501
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Simon Dingemans, the chairman of the new accountancy regulator, who has himself been breaking the rules on corporate reporting
RESPONDING to the recent wave of accountancy scandals, such as those at Carillion and BHS, the government is overhauling the regulator that allowed beancounting to get into its dire present state. The failed Financial Reporting Council is soon to be replaced by a new Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA), ushering in, says business secretary Greg Clark, “strengthened public trust in businesses and the regulations that govern them”.

How odd, then, that Clark should appoint as chairman of the new body a man who, as the Eye went to press, is breaking the law on corporate reporting!

Criminal offence
Simon Dingemans, recently retired finance director of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), is also director and co-owner with his wife of a property investment company called Grenofen Investments Ltd. It has bought property worth around £1.3m and was due to file accounts for the year ended 30 April 2018 at the end of this January. But a bright red alert on Companies House records show these are unfiled and nearly six months overdue. A £750 late filing penalty will become £1,500 at the end of this month.

Failure to file accounts on time is strictly a criminal offence by the directors. Although it’s hardly the crime of the century, the man charged with ensuring things are done properly at the regulator responsible for ensuring that companies and their accountants do things properly might be expected not to commit it. Especially one who made much of his role in “rebuilding trust” at his “confirmation hearing” before Rachel Reeves MP’s business select committee last week.

Sloppiness
Adding to the embarrassment, the last accounts filed for Grenofen show a correction to a fairly major error in previous years, when the £300,000 cost of property bought by the company but paid for by the Dingemanses was incorrectly omitted from the accounts – betraying a sloppiness not ideal in a top regulator.

Dingemans’s appeal to Clark was probably based on GSK’s talking a good corporate governance game: one of its directors sits on the FRC’s current corporate reporting council. But the reality hasn’t always been squeaky-clean. In September 2014, Chinese authorities fined GSK around £300m for corruption, claiming it had bribed health officials using a network of travel agencies. Settling civil charges in 2016 over the same matter, the US Securities & Exchange Commission said: “Between at least 2010 and June 2013, employees and agents of GSK’s China-based subsidiary and a China-based joint-venture engaged in various transactions and schemes to provide things of value to foreign officials, including healthcare professionals, in order to improperly influence them and increase sales of GSK products in China.” Dingemans had joined the GSK board in January 2011.

That came after a career in mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs, where he advised on deals including the private equity buy-out of Alliance Boots and Vodafone’s takeover of German company Mannesmann. Both were routed through offshore arrangements to secure huge tax advantages (Eyes passim). Just the man to restore faith in beleaguered British accountancy!

PS Dingemans is joined in the ARGA boardroom by new chief executive Sir Jon Thompson, who is leaving HM Revenue & Customs after just over three years running the tax authority, and at a time when a certain Brexit-era continuity is at a premium. Relinquishing a key Whitehall role for beancounting regulation might surprise some, but then he will be getting a 75 percent pay rise to £330,000. There’s still gold in that there beancounting business!

More top stories in the latest issue:

FINE BY THEM…
Boris Johnson becomes PM with the help of a £100,000 donation from the former financial director of Vote Leave – which broke electoral law to win its EU campaign.

DEFICIT DENIERS
Despite the unpaid deficit and government borrowing of around £30bn a year, both PM candidates promised spending sprees to help oldies and big business.

FLAG OF INCONVENIENCE
The lineage of that Iranian-seized ‘British’ oil tanker, the Stena Impero – which is Chinese-built, Swedish-owned, and Indian-Russian-Latvian-Filipino-crewed.

PARLIAMENT OF FOOLS
A plan to demolish the listed former health department building to make way for a replica Commons chamber could add years of delay to the already vast project to restore the Palace of Westminster.

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