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Former Italian member firm hits back at Baker Tilly International

Studio Maurizio Godoli, Baker Tilly International former Italian member firm, has contested it had to leave the global network because it had failed to comply with its quality assurance program as suggested by Baker Tilly International.

In July of this year, International Accounting Bulletin revealed that Studio Maurizio Godoli was serving its notice to leave the network, and a spokesperson for Baker Tilly International had said the firm's membership had been terminated because it had not complied with the network's quality assurance programme.

At the time of publication Studio Maurizio Godoli couldn't be reached for comment, but partner Luciano Leonello Godoli has now told International Accounting Bulletin that this version is not true. According to him, the fall out is due to Baker Tilly Revisa's, the network's Italian audit member firm, succession planning.

Godoli's father, Maurizio Godoli is the founding partner of Studio Maurizio Godoli and at the time was the chairman and majority shareholder of Baker Tilly Revisa with 32% of the shares.

"There was a negotiation promoted by my father to sell the company to EY, because most of the partners are quite old," he explained. "But this negotiation was not concluded because some partners decided they wanted to stay for another five years."

He told International Accounting Bulletin that his father who is 74 years old then decided to sell his shares of Baker Tilly Revisa.
Godoli Jr. sent an email to Baker Tilly International CEO and president Geoff Barnes on 26 February of this year informing him that Godoli Sr. had signed a preliminary agreement for the sale of his shares with Giovanni Aspes. Aspes is a former EY partner and was EY Italy managing partner between 2001 and 2005.

In his email Godoli Jr. said Aspes as the new majority shareholder intended to further strengthen the cooperation between Baker Tilly Revisa and Studio Maurizio Godoli. He concluded his email saying he wanted to discuss further this new scenario.

According to an email exchange seen by International Accounting Bulletin, Barnes responded in early March informing Godoli Jr. of the termination of his firm's membership.

There was no quality assurance review issue, Godoli Jr. said. "So I was quite surprised about this false information given by Baker Tilly International. I demanded an explanation from them and didn't get any answer."

A source in Italy had told International Accounting Bulletin that Studio Maurizio Godoli's departure was due to a disagreement between its partners and Baker Tilly Revisa's partners.

Godoli Jr. responded: "The conflict with the partners of Baker Tilly Revisa comes from the fact that they did not accept that Maurizio Godoli - chairman and majority shareholder of the company for over 20 years - left the presidency due to age restrictions. And relations were then exacerbated following a negotiation of transfer of the whole firm to EY, promoted by us, which did not end positively at the end of 2014."

He said that the succession plan proposed was not accepted and as such his father had no other choice than to sell his share. "I don't understand why Baker Tilly International says things that don't correspond to the truth."

Studio Maurizio Godoli's membership to Baker Tilly International ended on 10th September and he said the firm has not lost any clients. "A lot of clients were referral works from Baker Tilly International, so I really don't understand why they would say that."

Godoli Jr. said the firm was now in negotiation with PKF International to join their network.

Baker Tilly International said they had no further comment. "We have already stated the facts so nothing more to say."

At the time of publication Baker Tilly Revisa, EY and PKF International had not replied our enquiries to confirm the above information.



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