Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The accountants are revolting

Accountants are not normally known for their rebellious nature so it comes to something when, according to the Financial Times, the UK's highest accounting authority – the Accounting Standards Board (ASB)– has told the EU to get lost over its new version of international accounting standards, and suggested British companies should ignore it.

Less than three months before listed companies across the European Union are required to harmonise accounting standards, the system is now in total confusion over recent amendments to what are known as "derivatives regulations", coded "IAS 39".

Nor does Ian Mackintosh, the ASB's new chairman, think that the problems can be resolved quickly, so there is little chance that UK companies will be able to apply the new standard in 2005, as was intended.

At the heart of the problem, it seems, is that the original proposals were changed followed intense lobbying by French banks – they who looked after Saddam Hussein’s money - which argued that the original IAS 39 proposal, based on US accounting rules, would disrupt their risk management practices.

The ASB now says that the new accounting requirements had been "seriously weakened" by the amendment, allowing member states to opt in or out of tougher requirements, leaving the ASB doubtful about its own ability to force UK companies to adopt the tougher rules.

Competing on the world stage for first prize in understatement, an EU commission spokesman said that the situation was "less than ideal". Who said the British were not having an influence?

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