Feeds

Azlan and those Fraud Squad investigations

Unwelcome distraction

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

This article was first published in April 1998 'What experience and history teach is this: people and government never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.'Hegel, The Philosophy of History. I knew that philosophy degree would come in handy one day. According to Henry Ford, history is bunk. According to Azlan, history is what the previous management team did with the company's accounting procedures and controls. Now the Serious Fraud Office is researching Azlan's history. Even more serious, the Fraud Squad of the North Yorkshire police is poring over the Azlan story. (I assume North Yorkshire is involved because its beat covers Azlan's eccentrically sited European distribution facility.) The two organisations are checking out the 'events leading to the suspension of the shares of Azlan by the stock exchange in June 1997'. In a terse press statement, Azlan says the present management team 'will give its full co-operation' - as if it had any choice in the matter. Citing an earlier shareholder circular, Azlan refers to the 'overstatement of profits and the failure of management and internal controls' which led to the share suspension in June 1997. This failure caused a £28 million hole in the accounts. In the year to 5 April 1997, the distributor lost £14.1 million on sales up from #196.5 million to £293 million, compared with the £14.8 million profit forecast in April. Peter Bertram, Azlan finance director, is more expansive in The Financial Times. 'The company has already had its own forensic review into what went on, so that gives them a good start. This is a historic investigation into what happened over a year ago.' Market makers are not buying the history story. In the quaint phrase of The Financial Times, Azlan Group shares 'gave up 7.5p to 50p' when the company announced the SFO investigation into 'suspected offences of false accounting'. Let us recall the results of the KPMG forensic review, announced last year by chairman Barrie Morgans. He said the nine staff who were disciplined and three who resigned in connection with the KPMG findings were 'silly, but not fraudulent'. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Morgans said at the time: 'No instances of fraud have come to light, but obviously there has been neglect on the part of some individuals.' The SFO and the North Yorkshire Fraud Squad clearly think that more than neglect may be involved. The company's current story is getting interesting - for the right reasons. SBC Warburg Dillon Read, Azlan broker, forecasts a break even at year end, and pre-tax profits for the full year to March 1999 of #8 million. At the current share price, Azlan is woefully undervalued. And there is plenty of upside to come. In this context, any legal action against former employees is an irrelevancy. But until the SFO completes its investigation, it will be impossible to treat Azlan as a 'normal' company.®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?