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World 'I was in charge of millions, then I had nothing'

03:05  26 october  2020
03:05  26 october  2020 Source:   bbc.com

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When then fashion buyer Santosh Kumari was called into the canteen at the offices of BHS more than four years ago to be told she and her colleagues would lose their "One day I was flying around the world and in charge of millions of pounds in my department, and the next minute, I have nothing

If she failed there, there was nothing in her . She looked charming as she came out in the moonlight. That could not be denied. Although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract to-night: It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden; Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be Ere one can say, "It lightens."

When then fashion buyer Santosh Kumari was called into the canteen at the offices of BHS more than four years ago to be told she and her colleagues would lose their jobs, the announcement followed plenty of warning signs.

For months before, Santosh says that stock had to be marked down as suppliers hounded the company for payments, later turning down orders because their banks feared that the retailer wouldn't pay up.

"It was really bizarre because we were all looking for jobs," she says. "My assistants and I were talking about jobs, where normally you don't talk to your line manager about going for another job elsewhere."

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The Dursleys had received a very angry letter from Harry’ s headmistress telling them Harry had been climbing school buildings. But today, nothing was going to go wrong. “ I had a dream about a motorcycle,” said Harry, remembering suddenly.

Through all the years that I have been in business I have never yet found our business bad as a result of any outside force. I made my fortune when I had nothing to start with, by myself and my own ideas. And that then we shall have a world composed of metal machines and human machines.

When the end came, the business was so bereft of resources that she and other staff were told they would not receive redundancy pay beyond the statutory minimum.

"One day I was flying around the world and in charge of millions of pounds in my department, and the next minute, I have nothing and I'm worried about paying my mortgage."

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BHS's collapse and the subsequent demise of firms such as Carillion and Thomas Cook have had a common thread in that the outside accountants hired to check their finances have been criticised.

a man standing in front of a building: BHS fell into administration in 2016 © Getty Images BHS fell into administration in 2016

BHS's auditors, PwC, were fined a record £6.5m after signing off accounts the industry watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), called "incomplete, inaccurate and misleading" in its report into the aftermath of the collapse.

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Paintings by this have been sold for millions of punds. Nothing you do will make any difference. I hope I 'm not inconveniencing you. (trouble). Clare was put in charge of the business. What did you do while you were waiting for the train? (time). I have changed my mind about this matter. Go away. I want to be myself.

They let me have this antique chair nothing . I was shocked the price they charged . by. Don't forget to thank your grandmother your present. Please don't change all your plans just my sake. for. Read the text detail, then answer the questions.

According to the FRC's most recent analysis, a third of UK audits are substandard.

Parliament has been scrutinising the audit industry for some time.

In 2011, a report from the House of Lords said: "The audit of large firms, in the UK and internationally, is dominated by an oligopoly with all the dangers that go with that."

It recommended companies should tender for audit work every five years, and it said that "complacency of bank auditors was a significant contributory factor" to the 2007-08 financial crisis.

a sign on the side of a train: Carillion, which collapsed in January 2018, had employed 43,000 people globally © Getty Images Carillion, which collapsed in January 2018, had employed 43,000 people globally

Since 2018, three government-commissioned reports have been published about audit reform.

The Kingman review has suggested replacing the current regulator with a stronger one, the Brydon review said auditors should try harder to detect fraud, while one conducted by the competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority, said auditing and consultancy needed to be separate businesses.

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You have to make sure about a hundred musicians are playing in time. It' s an idea that has grown _ of frustration and, to be honest a lack of money to spend on yet another dress that I only wear once. Then , I wouldn't buy any more new clothes until something wore_.

Since then the show has exploded in popularity, winning many awards including 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. that when his parents died, Hamilton had nothing to live on. how much Hamilton managed to achieve during his lifetime.

Despite all these failings and recommendations, no laws have passed to tighten the rules.

The government insists it knows that reform is needed and has said it "will respond with comprehensive proposals for reform and will then bring forward legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows".

But over the summer the government was criticised by parliament for dragging its feet.

A different approach is suggested by Prem Sikka, a recent entrant into the House of Lords as a Labour peer and a professor in accounting.

"I don't think it can really be fixed," he says. "As long as accountancy firms are paid by the companies they audit, and they also then throw in a bit of a consultancy, there is a conflict of interest. Nobody's going to bite the hand that feeds them."

He says that the best solution would be to have a state body audit the largest companies, just as HMRC oversees the auditing of tax collection.

"I think it matters, because we rely upon auditors to make corporations publicly accountable. And that matters, not only to investors in the stock market, but also to employees, about the safety of their pension schemes and to creditors."

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"Good God , man, you have no idea how glad I am to see you. Don't think I 'm doing anything for you in putting you up. The boot' s on the other leg . I laughed. He put away his day' s work, saying that he had nothing to do that could not wait till tomorrow, and threw himself into a long chair.

38 _ then , he has written three more series based not only on Greek, but also on Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology. I have never seen Pa look as ill as this. That’ s why I telephoned you.” “ I am glad you did, and I ’m certainly glad I decided to come down to Kent last night”.

He says the public should have access to basic facts about audits such as the size of the audit team, its contract, hourly rates and how long is spent on the work.

a group of people holding a sign: Thomas Cook collapsed last year © Getty Images Thomas Cook collapsed last year

While no rules have been changed, not everyone has failed to act.

In the wake of its $1.9bn settlement with US authorities in 2012 over anti money-laundering concerns, global banking giant HSBC hired more internal auditors and compliance workers and set up more rigorous systems.

Part of its plan included hiring consultants with the goal of encouraging a more inquisitive culture at the bank. Employees at the bank were encouraged to ask questions about where money was being made and how.

One of those hired to do the training was Ian Hynes, a former police officer and investigator and now chief executive of training firm Intersol Global, which has trained internal auditors in the art of conducting an effective investigation.

He says while HSBC's decision to train bankers to do this seems perfectly natural and should be replicated by other businesses, it is hardly the norm among big companies.

"Where we delivered training, a very common theme in the feedback was that they were disappointed that they did not receive the training at the outset of their careers, whatever that career was, whether it was audit or compliance," he says.

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It's even less the norm among the largest auditors, he says, who have shunned his investigative training.

"It's been hard work," he says. "We've had little reaction, if any."

A questioning mindset could have stopped many a scandal, he says.

Auditing "should be seen as an asset that's valuable, that adds value to the business that helps secure, protect reputations, lives, careers, save the entities' money".

His business as a trainer in these skills "has been termed the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, and it frustrates the life out of me that we ended up getting commissioned when the damage is being done."

Ms Kumari and some former BHS colleagues sued the defunct company's estate and won after a court found it had broken the law in not providing sufficient consultation over job losses.

"The speed of BHS's collapse into administration and the announcement of redundancies shortly thereafter left many employees suddenly and unexpectedly out of work," said her lawyer Carl Moran of SDM Legal.

Ms Kumari, like many others looking for work in the wake of corporate failure, says the blame of the collapse of BHS should lie with its bosses. But she wonders what auditors knew - or could have asked - about the company's books before the end.

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