FRC starts probe into accountant at centre of £469m black hole

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has started an investigation into the conduct of a member over the financial management of Thurrock Council’s operations and investment activities for the financial years ended 31 March 2018 to 31 March 2022.

The investigation will be conducted by the FRC’s Executive Counsel under the Accountancy Scheme, which covers both member firms and individual members of professional accountancy bodies.

The collapse of the council’s financial investment strategy led to significant financial loss for the local authority and saw the council put under Government intervention in September 2022. It has been estimated that poor investment decisions led to a £469 million funding black hole for the council.

Throughout the intervention process, the council and the Government appointed commissioners have been updating the police and financial regulatory authorities about emerging evidence into what happened to lead to the extreme financial difficulties.

Thurrock Council said it will continue to provide information to the FRC and support their investigation as it progresses.

Andrew Jefferies, Leader of Thurrock Council, said: “I strongly welcome the announcement from the FRC. As a council, we recognise that things went very wrong. Our focus now continues to be on taking the necessary action to put that right.

“The announcement that the FRC will investigate the issues we’ve raised about the failings of the past is strongly welcomed by all of us working together to create a better future for the council and the borough. We will support the investigation in any way possible.”