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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Accountants face competition probe
The break-up of Andersen accountants could see ministers referring the remaining "big four" firms to the competition authorities, the House of Commons treasury committee has heard.

Andersen's decline in the US followed its role in the Enron affair.


The final recommendations are a matter for the review team and have not yet been finalised

Treasury spokesman
FSA chairman
It is also reducing the number of big players in the UK from five to four - an issue that may need to be considered by the competition commission.

The Treasury's head of central accountancy David Loweth said: "It will either be ministers making the referral or approving officials to make the referral.

"There are competition issues that need to be looked at."

But a Treasury spokesman said such a referral had yet to be decided.

"Mr Loweth's comments need to be seen in their proper context," the spokesman said.

"He was talking about the broad range of issues the Accountancy and Audit review was considering.

"We have always made clear that the review would leave no stone unturned and would be prepared to consider all options.

"However, the final recommendations are a matter for the review team and have not yet been finalised."

Mr Loweth's comments came after the chairman of the Financial Services Authority, Sir Howard Davies, expressed concern at the impact of the break-up of Andersen.

"I think a competition analysis of the overall state of the market would be useful," he told the committee.

Sir Howard suggested that the matter might need addressing at an international level.

Anderson sell-off

Such a move could see the US justice department or the European Commission involved.

Andersen is being sold off to one of the remaining four - Deloitte & Touche.

Andersen was found guilty earlier in the year of obstructing justice by shredding Enron documents.

The failure of energy giant Enron, and its ability to effectively disguise its true financial position sent shock waves through almost all levels of corporate US.

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Sir David Tweedie, Institute of Intl Accounting
"We have to pick up the whole area of corporate governance and ask why do these things happen?"
See also:

02 Jul 02 | England
18 Jun 02 | Business
17 Jun 02 | Business
15 Jun 02 | Business
04 Jun 02 | Business
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