Activists urge ban on EY in UK public tenders

London, Nov 16 (AFP/APP):An anti-corruption group on Monday called for Britain to impose a three-year ban on consulting giant Ernst & Young (EY) from participating in public tenders after a string of recent scandals.

Spotlight on Corruption asked the Crown Commercial Service to impose the temporary block on the London-based firm, citing a recent Danske Bank money laundering scheme and Wirecard collapse among other cases in which EY has been implicated.

“EY has been hit by a number of recent scandals,” the non-governmental organisation said in a statement accompanying a letter to the Crown Commercial Service.

“In particular, we are asking for a review of EY’s suitability to bid on two upcoming cross-government framework contracts for public sector consultancy services and for public body audit services, as well as a contract for legal services.”

The group accused EY of “grave professional misconduct” and demanded the British government order an independent assessment, at EY’s expense, into the cause of its recent failures and how they might be addressed.

In response, the consultancy said: “We strongly dispute the characterisation of EY. We work in a highly regulated industry and take our responsibilities extremely seriously.”

EY was responsible for validating the accounts for Wirecard before the German electronic payments company became subject to one of the most high-profile bankruptcies in recent times.

The auditing group now faces hundreds of lawsuits from investors, among others, in Germany.

EY is also accused of failing to identify massive accounting irregularities in the NMC Health hospital group in the United Arab Emirates, which is now also bankrupt and being sued by its directors.

Spotlight on Corruption highlighted a gold money laundering case in Dubai where it said EY “should have reported money laundering and flagged concerns about the accounts of its client, Kaloti”.

Kaloti, an international jewellery group, “was buying gold from an organised crime gang”, the NGO said.

Britain’s High Court ordered this year that EY should pay more than £8 million ($10.5 million, nine million euros) in compensation to a whistleblower who questioned Kaloti’s practices.

Spotlight also criticised EY for failing to warn about billions of euros worth of suspicious transactions in the accounts of the leading Danish bank Danske Bank when it audited them in 2014.

EY, who with its competitor PwC is one of the world’s top four consulting and auditing firms, also faces scrutiny for failing to report breaches at the London Capital and Finance plc, whose closure cost thousands of small investors part of their savings.

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