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Ex-Cattles subsidiary FD excluded from ICAEW

Welcome Financial Services former finance director Peter Miller is stripped of licence for six years

19 Feb 2013 Accountancy Age

By Rachael Singh

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THE PROFESSION'S watchdog has excluded former Cattles subsidiary finance director for six years at a tribunal hearing.

Peter Miller was excluded for six years from the ICAEW at a Financial Reporting Council (FRC) tribunal hearing today, for his role as FD at Welcome Financial Services, the main subsidiary of troubled sub-prime lender Cattles.

Miller will not face any financial penalties as part of the sanction following an earlier investigation and disciplinary handed down by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), where he was forced to pay a £200,000 fine.

According to the FSA investigation, of which large amounts of the report were used as evidence in the FRC's tribunal hearing, Cattles' annual report contained "highly misleading arrears, impairment and profit figures".

Based on the FSA report of "conclusive evidence of misconduct", Miller admitted the FSA findings in today's tribunal.

However, his defence today argued at the tribunal that Miller had only failed in his role as FD and not that he had deliberately misled shareholders and the auditors. While his defence argued they were not seeking to diminish the misconduct, they claimed that the FSA made no finding that Miller deliberately hid the true position of the company - and instead this was a case of severe negligence.

The FSA had previously stated that although Miller knew that any deviation of impairment would lead to misleading statements, he was not actively involved in producing those figures. 

It was also argued by his defence that no financial penalty or cost should be applied as Miller had already been handed a large fine by the FSA which has put his own and his family's financial stability at risk, given that he is close to retirement age (55). Miller is currently working in a water treatment business as a systems manager, however, his role entails little or no book-keeping duties.

Based on the "conclusive evidence of misconduct" Miller admitted the FSA findings and accepted those findings constitute misconduct for the purposes of the FRC's tribunal hearing.

The tribunal found that there was "no question" this was a very serious case, and Miller will lose his licence in 29 days.

Yesterday the FRC tribunal stripped Cattles group finance director James Corr of his ICAS licence for eight years. He will also not face any financial penalties following in earlier investigation and disciplinary handed down by the FSA where he was forced to pay a £400,000 fine.

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