Accountants disciplined over Norwegian claims

THREE accountants have been disciplined by their professional standards authority in connection with the fraud allegations being made by the president of the Norwegian parliament, it has emerged.

norway_900
President of Norway's parliament, Olemic Thommessen, top right, has claimed a Guernsey trust he set up has been fraudulently mis-managed. He created the trust on behalf of the late theatre designer Maria Bjornson, bottom right, best known for designing the sets and costumes for Phantom of the Opera

One is understood to be a senior figure in Guernsey financial circles and heavyweight Norwegian business newspaper, Dagens Naeringsliv, which has a circulation of more than 200,000, is on the point of naming him. It has already identified the company that he works for.

Olemic Thommessen, the most senior figure in the Nordic state after its king, appears determined to carry out his threat to damage the island’s finance reputation as he demanded that Guernsey takes seriously his complaints about the administration of a multi-million pound trust.

He is said to be furious chief minister Jonathan Le Tocq has yet to contact him about claims that a trust he settled in the name of Phantom of the Opera set and costume designer Maria Bjornson has been mishandled locally.

The Policy Council said officers had attempted to contact Mr Thommessen on the instructions of Deputy Le Tocq and were awaiting a reply, but confirmation of this could not be obtained.

Mr Thommessen has accused Guernsey authorities of turning a blind eye to what he claims is evidence of fraud.

Comments for: "Accountants disciplined over Norwegian claims"

Worried Guern

I am getting sick and tiered of the protection of finance wrong doing, going on here in Guernsey.

If they have been disciplined by their own professional standards authority why has the company and individuals not been named? This is potentially a very serious problem developing and their own authority has admitted that they have done something wrong. This happens all to much in the Fianance sector and more often than not in the Trust world?

Surely not

A blind eye? How dare he make such an outrageous accusation!! The GFSC are an organisation of unquestionable integrity and ruthless efficiency, surely they could never be guilty of failing to carry out their duties properly?

US Investor

You must be joking!

Why would a respected person in Norway make such a statement and ask for a response from the Chief Minister if it were not true?

The Governance of Guernsey must wake up and treat such allegations seriously if they don't want the bad publicity.

Is it time for a new Chief minister?

Ted

Yes, "Surely not" was joking but don't be too sure that "a respected person" would not make a false claim. That's entirely the point "Surely not" was making in relation to GFSC.

The Bloke what comments here (Oh Dear)

Guernsey is so scared of losing out on the finance sector that they'll say and do anything to try and keep it. The people at the top of that particular sector could get away with what ever they want to.

I'm fairly sure it's still a dodgy institution and this article highlights that.

Portland

April 1st was a couple of weeks ago now mate.

markB

Don't worry about it, Kev will tell them where to go.

markB

Heads will roll!!

The Governor

Surely not. Ask yourself this. Who regulates the Regulator?

vic gamble

....there are phantoms in every accounts office....it is just that some are more obvious than others...(.organ music ascends, then fades out as the credit titles roll...!! )

Sam T

I think you'll find that "Surely not" is being ironic in heir comment, given the recent fallout with GFSC/CISX?Chief Minister. If I'm wrong then I'm sure I'll be corrected.

For those of you interested in the institution; try a google search for "Dagens Naeringsliv Guernsey" and all will be revealed.

The Governor

Sam T, yes, I got the irony and hence my question 'and who regulates the Regulator.....'

randi n winter

The most senior figure in Norway after the King ?? Must admit I had never heard of him till now and found, having Googled him that he is a member of the conservative pary in Oppland, their no 3 choice in Parliament ( Storting). Oh - and also an advocate.

I have no idea if his claim is valid or not, but thought the Norwegian system had laws against making use of 'tax havens' abroad.... Silly me !

Norvegienne

He is the president of the Norwegian parliament (Stortingspresident), which by definition makes him the most senior figure after the king. The trust was set up by him for a UK resident in 1987, which was not a violation of Norwegian law.

If you are actually interested in the case you can read about it here:

www.newsinenglish.no

jamiec

http://www.newsinenglish.no/2014/04/15/thommessens-tax-haven-tangle/

Terry Langlois

thanks for the link. very interesting.

it certainly seems like a tangled web and I suspect that there is more to this than meets the eye.

Leaving aside the apparent misconduct by the individuals concerned, it seems that at least part of his frustration is the difficulty of obtaining information about the trust, but he does not seem to be a beneficiary of the trust - his sole connection seems to be that he was himself a trustee of the beneficiary and asked for the trust to be set up in Guernsey, paying over the assets into the Guernsey trust. In that context, he has no interest in the affairs of the trust, so his claims that the matters directly concern him don't sound quite right. I can imagine that the trustees would have had very little scope for telling him anything.

It does seem as if the trustees were willing to give him information as long as he kept it confidential, which seems to have infuriated him even more. But just because he is a politician and expects to be open and transparent (ahem), that does not mean that the trustees are able to be completly open with someone that they owe no duty towards. He chose to set up the trust and so should have understood that the trustees owe duties to the beneficiaries and no-one else, and cannot just go around revealing information to extended family members of the beneficiary who just happen to be in powerful public office and so able to cause trouble.

The disciplinary action has been taken by the UK professional body, and it is they who decided to grant annonymity, so his gripe should be with them as much as anyone. He believes that there is serious criminal activity which is going unpunished, but if the UK professional body have looked into this then they would be obliged to report any criminal activity - so this suggests that they found professional misconduct but not criminal activity.

Regulators around the world will only deal with complaints from people with a legitimate interest in any matter. Based on the report in the above link, it does not surprise me that he has drawn a blank as he appears to have no direct interest in the trust.

I expect that we will hear a lot more on this and will hopefully be able to fill in some of the blanks.

Tim

Terry

I suspect you are right re the Settlor's lack of right to information about the trust, unless he was also either a beneficiary or a guardian of a beneficiary. What we don't know is whether those who were entitled to that information were being wrongly thwarted.

But my bigger concern is over the local accountant, who today's Press reported was in fact the managing director of the trust company, and who for some unknown reason managed to preserve his anonymity. Such a disciplinary ruling of professional misconduct must surely render him unfit to be allowed by GFSC to be a director of a regulated business.

Terry Langlois

agreed, but I cannot see why the ICAEW would be interested in preserving the reputation of one man or even the reputation of Guernsey. They would much rather be seen to be taking appropriate action against any misdemeanours.

that leads me to suspect that that matter was sufficiently minor for the ICAEW to be willing to grant anonymity, and also that no criminal actions were involved.

Tim

The fact that the local accountant was disciplined by the ICAEW and somehow managed to persuade them not to publish his identity for fear of losing his job (with good reason) is very disturbing.

Surely the GFSC is now aware, or should have been aware, of this disciplinary decision? How is that individual now regarded as a "fit and proper person" by the GFSC to run a regulated business?

The individual should have been named and the GFSC is surely obliged to act accordingly.

Others have been named, shamed and "blackballed" by the GFSC and held up as examples to the IMF for as little as not being as forceful as they should have been when trying to address wrongdoings by their employer.

Sorry, but this absolutely stinks.

Terry Langlois

the person concerned may not be in a position of authority, in which case they do not need to be fit and proper as they are just an employee and are not running the business. the issue then just becomes a compliance issue and a question of whether the compliance systems in place at the trust company are sufficient.

if the accountant was an accountant engaged by the trustee, and not working for the trust bank, then the GFSC has no jurisdiction .

A Trustee

Terry Langlois

Your comments above make no sense, sorry to say.

If the person has the power to sign off accounts on behalf of a Trustee, then they would have to be fit and proper and will have completed a PQ application with the GFSC.

Terry Langlois

yes, but the above information does not tell us what exact role these people were performing.

quite clearly, my comment relates to the possibility that these people did not have power to sign off accounts on behalf of a Trustee.

we simply do not know.

admittedly, the trustee himself is in a different position and clearly the GFSC will have jurisdiction there.

Ironic

Terrence, your first comment made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

You then try to backpedal, to give the illusion to the readers that you were simply misunderstood with the first comment, and make even less sense.

Accountants are accountable. To seek to pretend otherwise is just foolish on your part.

One can wriggle and squirm all they like. For future reference, I would suggest it may be best to refrain from commenting on things you clearly know nothing about.

Have I missed something in the detail anywhere?

You must try harder, Terrence.

I would be interested in Richard Murphy's take on the above. Not Terrence's pointless layman's viewpoint, which is neither here nor there and completely worthless, the main topic.

Arnald, care to comment?

A Trustee

Terry, it's quite clear to me that they had the authority to sign the accounts and that they were senior members of the accountancy firm. The question is not that they had authority to sign the accounts, but did they have authority to restate/amend a previous set of accounts that had already been signed. Two different things altogether. Anyhow, it will all come out soon, it far too important to sweep under the carpet.

Portland

Tim, most things associated with the GFSC have more than a whiff of week old haddock.

Ironic

The old boys club is rallying around to protect this individual. I would bet everything I have I could guess who this person is.

This sort of protectionism isn't something your everyday accountant could muster. They would be hung out to dry in an instant.

Terry Langlois

He is not being protected by the Guernsey establishment. It was the ICAEW which granted him anonymity - a UK body which has no particular interest in looking after Guernsey's reputation, or in granting favours to individuals.

Ironic

Networking, Terrence, networking!

Penny

I would get his name off the GuernseyFinance.com website under 'Key Personnel' pretty damn quick to avoid another Harwood PR disaster. Otherwise it all looks to cosy....

Can't believe it.....

Actually the GFSC are there primarily to protect the reputation of Guernsey PLC (whether they admit this or not!)

A good deal of the rules and regulations that licensed entities/individuals have to adhere to are in most intances not there to protect the rights of the settlor, beneficial owner, investor (those are enshrined in companies/trust etc laws) but actually to mitigate risk.

Compliance is one big @ss covering exercise and I can completely see why these investors have gone public if the GFSC have simply swept this under the carpet.

Better hope nobody leaks the name of the company otherwise the press will have a Field day ;-)

Medium G

The GFSC have set powers. If the regulations as laid down are not broken, what do you expect them to do? The police, data protection officer or Guernsey Border Agency are the more likely suspects for not running with this.

There really should be an ombudsman for this sort of thing. I heard talk of one with Jersey?

Mark

This went to court in 2010 and the findings are public record. I haven't read all several pages of the findings but it does certainly sound quite a muddled situation.

Sounds like his issues are more with the legal system itself rather than any particular service provider or person on the island though.

jamiec

Thanks - do you have a link?

Arnald

I was always right then, obviously.

For how many years have I argued this type of systemic legerdemain is endemic, only to have some finance industry blow-hard saying we're "white-list-compliant" and "you can't prove a negative" guff?

The "senior" finance guy should be named. If the ICAEW has concerns about its members, then in the name of "the free market" everyone should know in order to use the system to weed this potential type of arrogant operator out of business.

If the international finance centre that inhabits Guernsey wants to succeed then it must stamp out errant abusers. The perpetrators' shame should be given space in the GEP, like the people that pss in a bush. Names and addresses.

Is the Guernsey Press agitating for the facts?

Ironic

I suspect it may well be somebody who has once risen to the top and likes to keep himself busy in all things finance as well as being seen to do his bit for the running of the island.

I would like Richard Murthy to do a big of digging.

Private Eye should investigate some of our politicians. I am uncomfortable with how easy one has been allowed to shape policy, without questions being raised surrounding the legitimacy.

I have my suspicions about this. I would never get those past the Administrator of this site though.

The truth will come out.

A Trustee

Ironic

You certainly won't get a name passed the administrator but are you saying you think it might be a former politician? I would be surprised, although having said that, not terribly surprised...

Terry Langlois

he is named by a new article on these pages, and Ironic is completely wide of the mark

Ironic

I hit the nail directly on the head, actually, Terrence.

Are you telepathic, all of a sudden, as well now?

Win!

Terry Langlois

how convenient that you did not actually name them so that you could claim that you were thinking of the right person all along...

you were clearly pointing figures at a politician (and A Trustee read your comments that way) who is at the heart of policy on the island - not exactly a description of John Robinson is it?

eddie41

Is the press agitating for the facts?

the list of advertisers in the GP tells me no and not going to either.

Island Wide Voting

Define 'endemic' ... define 'systemic'

Arnald

define 'ignorance'.

Ironic

A pat on the back, for you, Sir.

OldGuern

Once again the finance industry makes us old islanders feel ashamed to admit where we are from.

Openness, transparency, morality., 3 words the finance industry and our lords and masters do not seem to have learned.

These people should be named and shamed and if they lose their job as a result then so be it.

Welcome to the real world, people in lots of jobs mess up and lose their jobs as a result.

An interesting question is did these people move into the island under housing license to these jobs?

markB

You may well find a lot of "These" people are local as local can be

and own these companies.

Simon

Read the related court cases on the internet and you will find that this is a complicated matter.

It would be my interpretation that this is a case of sour grapes by Mr Thommessen and as such he is determined to besmirch the reputation of Guernsey, the finance industry and certain individuals who work in Guernsey.

If the ICAEW decided not to name the individual concerned then they must have had good reason to do so. The ICAEW are not noted for being compassionate towards those who transgress their very strict rules and therefore I suspect whatever this transgression was it is very minor.

Just perhaps Mr Thommessen is using this to further his own reputation in Norway? There are always two sides to every story and I do not think that the GP has helped Guernsey plc by plastering the GP with these headlines when underneath there is very little substantiated facts being written just accusations by Mr Thommessen.

Terry Langlois

well said, that is my take on this entirely

Ironic

More backpedalling, Terrence. Shame on you. It's not particularly wise to support comments which are littered with unfounded hearsay and almost as idiotic as your own.

Less is more.

Keep trying though.

Jon

It is rather comical how one will agree with the other when neither make much sense. Just typical really.

Ironic

"Just perhaps Mr Thommessen is using this to further his own reputation in Norway?"

Really?

Do you know how idiotic that comment is?

Since when does a political figure curry favour with his people by admitting to aggressive tax avoidance measures?

Your comment is almost as pointless and worthless as Terrence's. He still holds first prize for that category.

Olemic Thommessen's popularity ratings would be at an all time low as a consequence.

The more I think about this the more just one person's name keeps popping into my head. Who, on Guernsey, could muster such protectionism? How embarrassing would such a revelation be for Guernsey PLC and what other ramifications would surface if the individual was thrown to the wolves? The worldwide media would instantly be whipped up into a frenzy.

Jack Toff

Accountant pees on war memorial = name, address and picture on front of GP.

Accountant disciplined by standards committe in relation to apparently serious financial matters = anonymity.

Terry Langlois

the former was a criminal act and so involed teh courts

the latter was a professional disciplinary matter which the (UK based) professional body felt was appropriate to deal with behind closed doors.

Make no mistake, if the ICAEW thought that there was anything criminal going on, they would have immediately informed the police in the UK and Guernsey.

Ironic

"teh courts" Terrence!

Is there a bit of Yorkshire blood in your DNA?

When a bunch of greedy individuals with lots to hide look to fool others, the least said the better. Quite the opposite of you really.

Finance would be crippled if every indiscretion were to be aired in public. The links in the chain would be severed completely. Most people know it. Very few would openly admit that because so many, a small elite minority in the grand scheme of things, have everything to lose and the consequences wouldn't bear thinking about.

WThe last thing people are willing to do is point fingers at others. It's far safer to look the other way.

figureman

Hardly a minor breach by the sounds of it from the regulator's own report...

Sentencing Order

The tribunal decided, in all the circumstances and taking into account the mitigation, it was not

appropriate to impose any sanction – the finding of breach was sufficient. It was of the view

however that the defendant should pay costs, noting that he had been contesting the

proceedings until recently and the case was proven. The IC had

been entirely proper in

pursuing this matter which highlighted an important point of professional standards. Thus, the

tribunal decided that the defendant should pay costs of £11,732

Terry Langlois

yes, an important point of professional standards, but not one worthy of ANY sanction.

so, not that serious in the ICAEW's view.

figureman

Terry Langlois, not so:

17.

The tribunal was very concerned that members of the profession should

recognise the need to

make due enquiry in circumstances such as this, where approving accounts was in effect

condoning the back dating of a financial transaction. It noted that this matter had been

aggravated by the sums of money involved. There had been a

lack of enquiry. The tribunal

would have expected

the defendant

to have wanted to check in person what had given rise to

such a material restatement, particularly as he would have thought, further to the information

(which was subsequently found to be mis

leading) given to him by Miss Y, that his company

had made a material mistake.

Terry Langlois

yes, he was found to have breached standards - but the ICAEW did not consider it necessary to impose any sanction

Ironic

You are starting to appear as though you're very desperate to get a point across, now, Terrence.

Simply hold your hands up to the fact that this is not a topic which you're particularly familiar with and leave it at that.

You like to air your views on all and sundry. That much is apparent. One can easily spot when you're out of your comfort zone. Stick to the irrelevant rubbish that is your usual style.

Terry Langlois

whereas you (for whatever reason) are desperate to have a snipe at me no matter what I say.

that's fine, I'll keep commenting on the substance, and you can keep chirping away.

Ironic

I'm content with leaving it at that. For now. I feel a slight sense of achievement and am quite smug with it.

Thanks, Terrence.

Island Wide Voting

Terry

Ironic is sounding more and more like Arnald with every post

Alex R

The paper on Saturday suggested that there was thousands of pounds in fines,damages and costs and now it is suggested it is just costs.

Can someone clear this up because I am feeling misled.

Terry Langlois

IWV

The MO is different, but they both must have had difficult childhoods, imagining terrible beasties lurking under the bed and in the shadows...only for Mummy to turn on the light and for everything to be a lot less exciting than they thought (or possibly hoped).

Jon

Terry Langlois

Don't lose sight of the fact that you do want others to believe you are the voice of reason on all things known to man and beast.

Ironic makes valid points. Ones which you'd do well to take notice of. For future reference, if nothing else. Sure, he has had fun playing with you due to your lack of understanding on this particular subject. You do read as though you need to be right all the time and that can be nauseating for many.

You are clearly not familiar with this subject but still pretend as though you are. If you were a drinker I could easily see a fair few who'd like to take you outside due to your outspoken, argumentative persona. One who likes to believe he is a knowitall can quickly upset others. Especially when alcohol is involved. It's not a particularly good trait to have.

Arthur

Terry Langlois has clearly been beat and is starting to get immature because of that fact. Quite a sad reflection on him as a person really.

I would have to say he'd do far better to ask questions and learn from what others can enlighten him on rather that pretend he knows everything and expect to wing his way through every encounter in life.

There are many people who like to show people like him up for a bit of light entertainment.

Mandy

I agree with the comments above, regarding Terry Langlois. Ironic has made fun out of him. How ironic. Others would jump on the same bandwagon given the obvious fact he likes to be right all the time. Clearly this thread shows that not to be the case.

I could easily imagine him being invited outside on a regular basis if he were to take his simpleton opinions into many establishments and aired his tiresome views amongst the locals.

Some people just don't know when enough is enough. Terry needs to let the above be a lesson and hopefully he may even learn something from it? No doubt it will go completely above his head though.

Reading the above has made me chuckle. What was funny was the piece where Terry aligned himself with comments made which were almost as absurd as his own.

Agreeing with the statements that a Norwegian public figure would use stealthy offshore tax avoidance measures to further his position. I don't believe Terry has much understanding on this subject at all. It presents entertaining reading for him to pretend he actually does though. I like this thread more and more as it progresses.

Toby

LOL @Terry Langlois. He has been stitched up a beauty on this thread and pretty much walked into it willingly.

Sally

Poor Terrence. He has taken a good shoeing.

HAha

Tim

What I find "ironic" is that "Sally", "Arthur", "Jon", and "Mandy" all seem to have appeared together for the very first time on TIG/Your Shout and at the same time to lay into Terry Langlois. What are the odds of that?

Arnald/Fast Robert/Lawrence/Ironic, I smell a rat.

Arnald

Tim

I agree with you about the similarity of those posters suddenly interested in having a pop at TL, however they are nothing to do with me.

Lawrence

Tim

If you don't like it why don't you join pb falla's mass exodus?

Terry Langlois

Find a hobby!

Finance

Find some scruples.

Tim

Arnald

Sorry but I don't believe you. It has your prints all over it.

Lawrence (aka Arnald)

What do you mean "if I don't like it"?

Your history on this site and previously TIG is very well-known. You have a very clear agenda, fuelled by sheer ignorance and hatred of the finance industry, with no ability to accept that things have moved on and been cleaned up massively since you took the shilling.

Arnald

Tim.

I am not any of the posters other than Arnald.

I certainly wouldn't be giving Terry Langlois such childish stick, we've been round these houses years ago.

I've only used 3 names on here in the last six or seven years, and I only use one at a time.

Why would I bother spamming a thread? Definitely not my thing.

Questionable

Prove it!

Terry Langlois

Arnald, for what it is worth, I don't think that this latest collection of sock puppets have anything to do with you either.

We have often disagreed and have frequently reached vastly different assessments of any given situation, but you have always engaged with the subject at hand.

It has never been your style to attack a person directly without offering anything of substance to the debate.

Whilst grateful for Tim (and then you) in confirming that I was not alone in seeing the obvious sock-puppetry, I was also partly disappointed that Ironic was called out on this. It would have been interesting to see how many more new posters would mysteriously appear to make strikingly similar comments before he finally gave up trying to provoke a response.

Lawrence

Terrence

It means everything!

Haha

PBFALLA

Maybe John West would like to make a comment, he always paints a pretty picture of this industry.

Lets hear it John

Disappointed

I came here for the sole purpose of finding one of your award-winning rants about the finance sector, and all I get is "Oh dear" and "I'd like to hear from Sideshow Mel."

This has been a let down. For shame pbfalla, for shame.

PBFALLA

Timing is important i like to see the views of the "finance is great we are the best"

I will be back

So you wont be Disappointed

Admin at GuernseyPress.com

Alex R

Any confusion is because there were three accountants involved. Two were fined and faced costs. The other had the case against him upheld and costs only imposed as the finding of 'guilt' was deemed sufficient penalty.

The maximum fine was £10,000 while the maximum costs were somewhat more than that.

PBFALLA

Please note John West the self styled we are the best in finance has failed to post, despite posting and castigating people on other threads

SO LETS HEAR YOUR VERSION JOHN WEST

ON THIS TOPIC

Aeschylus

This should be investigated by the police – the investigation and possible subsequent court case will bring this all out into the open so that the truth can come out.

The role of the GFSC should also be investigated as, if the ICAEW (as the Accountants regulators) think there was a case to answer, then surely the GFSC (as Guernsey’s financial industry regulator) should also be checking into what occurred. One thing is for sure, those people who in the past have been pursued by the GFSC and have been excluded, will wonder what the heck is going on here.

John Robinson, meanwhile, should do the decent thing and resign.

Arthur

Since when did anybody in Finance ever do the decent thing?

When one desires to have it all the rules change to suit one's own agendas.