Business

KPMG partners arrested in tax probe ‘retire from firm'

The Belfast office of KPMG. Picture By Arthur Allison 
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE four senior partners at Belfast business advisers KPMG who were arrested last November as part of a tax evasion investigation have left the firm, it emerged on Friday.

In a statement the company said the men - Jon D’Arcy, Eamonn Donaghy, Arthur O’Brien and Paul Hollway - had "now retired following a period of administrative leave".

And KPMG, who had conducted an internal probe into the circumstances around the quartet's arrests, has been swift to establish a new advisory board for its Northern Ireland operation.

Insolvency specialist John Hansen becomes partner in charge, heading a team of 11 partners and more than 200 staff at KPMG.

John Poole takes over leadership of the Northern Ireland audit practice while Johnny Hanna assumes control of the firm's tax practice.

Shaun Murphy, who is managing partner of KPMG in Ireland, together with the heads of audit, tax, advisory and people, will continue to support the team in Belfast, which is supplemented with other client partners.

And the advisory board will be chaired by KPMG's global operations chief Shaun Kelly, who has spent the last 17 years working in the US but who has strong Northern Ireland connections (last year he was conferred with an honorary doctorate by Queen's University Belfast in recognition of his services to business and commerce).

When they were arrested four months ago, D'Arcy was the Belfast operation’s chairman, Donaghy headed the firm’s tax practice, Hollway was head of corporate finance at KPMG in Ireland, and O’Brien provided audit and advisory services to clients including the Policing Board.

The four men had set up a private investment company in 2005 called JEAP, from the initials of their first names, and it was thought the HMRC enquiry related to activities around that firm.

On Friday, KPMG told the Irish News: "We have co-operated fully with the HMRC investigation, which relates solely to the personal affairs of the four individuals and is not related to the firm's business or the business of its clients."

Shaun Murphy, managing partner of KPMG in Ireland, added: “Our new management team has all the necessary skills and resources required to both service our existing clients and further develop our significant business in Northern Ireland.

"The new Northern Ireland advisory board will be of tremendous assistance to the firm.

"I would also like to acknowledge the magnificent support we have received from our clients in recent months as we worked through these issues and can assure them of our absolute commitment to deliver on the confidence and trust which we recognise they have placed in us.”

He added: “Our firm is built on a foundation of trust and integrity and we are fully committed to ensuring that all of our people do the right thing, every time and that we continue to provide the highest quality services to our clients in Northern Ireland.

"Our public interest committee, which is responsible for independently overseeing the public interest aspects of decision making in our firm, assists us in meeting those commitments.”

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