The Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW) is investigating allegations of improper conduct by Ernst & Young UK in the administration of Greek telecoms company Wind Hellas, according to a British media report.
The Telegraph newspaper said the ICAEW has launched an inquiry into E&Y’s handling of the controversial insolvency of Wind Hellas in 2009, which cost investors £1.3billion.
The ICAEW professional conduct department is said to have written to E&Y questioning why it took on Wind Hellas’s administration when it had a long-standing relationship with the company.
In the letter to Maggie Mills, the E&Y partner who oversaw the pre-pack, the institute’s investigation manager, John Morton, said Mills should have “resigned” from the appointment because of a conflict of interest.
“As you are a partner of E&Y there is, and there can be reasonably be seen to be, a threat to your objectivity in considering these matters,” he wrote, according to the newspaper report.
The ICAEW is reported to have asked the Big Four firm for full details of the firm’s previous work with Wind Hellas group companies and disclose how much it collected in fees from the pre-pack.
Mills was also asked to detail what “conflict check” procedures E&Y has in place, according to the newspaper.
If the ICAEW find E&Y has breached the institute’s code of ethics, it could be fined up to one-and-a-half times the fees it charged Wind Hellas.
The ICAEW said it does not wish to talk about the inquiry.
E&Y said in a statement: “The institute investigates all complaints from the public and we will respond to any inquiries raised with us.”
Bertrand des Pallières, founder of SPQR Capital, a hedge fund that lost millions in the administration, is understood to have made the allegation of improper conduct.
Wind Hellas was owned by Egyptian telecoms billionaire Naguib Sawiris and the company relocated its headquarters from Luxembourg to London three months before it went into administration in 2009.