“The fact that I am [sitting] here being accused of dishonesty, and have never been dishonest in my business life … is frankly outrageous. This whole case here is just a witch hunt and if [the FRC] can’t win the case, which they shouldn’t based on the facts, then it is simply a process of trying to trash my name in the press.” [Italics emphasis added.]
— David Costley-Wood, a restructuring partner at KPMG U.K., said during a Financial Reporting Council disciplinary tribunal hearing Nov. 24.
Italics were added to “witch hunt” because according to an Oct. 28, 2019 article by The Nation, Donald Trump tweeted those two words a total of 294 times from the start of his presidency up until when the article was published.
Anyhoo, back to Costley-Wood’s hearing. Law360 reported today:
KPMG restructuring adviser David Costley-Wood accused the Financial Reporting Council of trying to discredit a meeting from August 2010 — with Silentnight, HIG Capital and prospective administrators, in which he tried to prevent the bedding company from entering into administration — by making fresh allegations of dishonesty against him during his cross-examination.
The FRC alleged on Monday that Costley-Wood had allowed the pensions regulator to believe that a “fake” note recording the meeting was created at the time, when it was in fact created 13 months later in response to a request for information from the watchdog.
Costley-Wood said he attended the meeting with the “sole intention” of persuading HIG not to put Silentnight into administration. He said he was facing opposition from a prospective administrator, who wanted to put the company into insolvency for the administration fee.
“What I really don’t understand is there is an insolvency practitioner at this meeting trying to persuade HIG to put it into administration, and I come along and try to persuade HIG not to — yet I am the person being accused of misconduct,” Costley-Wood said.
The FRC is alleging that KPMG and Costley-Wood were “seriously conflicted” when they arranged the sale of Silentnight, the U.K.’s largest bed and mattress manufacturer, to buyout fund HIG Capital, according to the Financial Times. The sale in 2011 took the form of a prepack administration.
FT reported on Nov. 16:
The watchdog claimed KPMG had courted HIG as a client for about nine months before it was appointed as administrator to Silentnight, meaning it had an “interest in pleasing HIG”. This presented a conflict with its duties to the company’s creditors and shareholders.
KPMG then “assisted” HIG in its plan to force a liquidity crisis at Silentnight by acquiring and then calling in some of its debt, the FRC claimed. This allowed HIG to purchase the business out of insolvency while its £100m pension liabilities were transferred to the UK’s pensions lifeboat, the Pension Protection Fund.
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