If you live in Middlesbrough it's not every day you see your house in the opening sequences of a Bond movie, so you have to make the most of it when you spot it.
The same goes for us poor knackered insolvency practitioners, who no-one has ever banged a saucepan lid for. So we should have celebrated yesterday (Monday 11 January) when The Times gave us column inches with the headline, 'Insolvency Firms Put Under Investigation After Scandals'. Who among you are quivering in your very horrible (incidentally) brown work shoes? Have they found out what you did at the 2019 Christmas Party? What about that time you overcharged your travel expenses when popping home whilst on a job? The chances are it is not about you (although I wouldn't entirely relax about that travel expenses thing), as it appears the focus is likely to be on the relationship between insolvency practitioners and the lending banks that have the power to appoint them.
When does 'schmoozing' become a scandal? Do we need guidelines? The Times helpfully explains to us that usually banks appoint insolvency firms to recover assets (the cads). This has apparently led to accusations that the recovery firms act in the interests of the banks over those of the business or other creditors.
The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on fair business banking said it had received complaints from business owners that the present system did not do enough to protect their companies when they had fallen into insolvency. They say there is no independent regulator or ombudsman to oversee the industry. Er, HELLO? Until very recently there were more regulators that IPs, and the IPA and ICAEW are as professional and 'independent' as they come. This seems to us in the NTI newsroom to be a case of MPs working from home and getting as bored with their own shelves as we are seeing them through a TV camera lens.
Kevin Hollinrake, the Conservative co-chairman of the APPG and a good friend of the NTI newsroom, having lightened our door before, said: “In recent years there have been a number of high-profile failures in the insolvency industry."
"You do realise that the insolvency and restructuring industry deals with failures, some of them high profile, don't you Kevin?"
"My constituents at Thirsk and Malton are very concerned," he added.
"Isn't it true, Mr Hollinrake, that your constituents are more concerned about the fact you dropped out of Polytechnic in your formative years and became an estate agent?"
"What about prominent scandals involving insolvency practitioners, including the Administration of the electrical goods retailer Comet Group?" Kevin sneered, "Remember that Neville Khan, a former star partner at Deloitte, was severely reprimanded and fined £50,000 last year by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales for failures in his handling of the Administration."
"That's right, Kevin. Neville Khan was investigated by his REGULATORY BODY and FINED HEAVILY. That is called O.V.E.R.S.I.G.H.T. Oh, and by the way, how about MPs and their specialist subject: scandals?"
We have had over-played expenses, cash for questions, anything and everything involving Peter Mandelson (his pièce de résistance being borrowing £373,000 from Brownite Treasury minister Geoffrey Robinson to buy a property), the special advisor to the then transport secretary Stephen Byers firing off an email suggesting that September 11th 2001 was a 'good day to bury bad news', the leaking of the Hutton report in 2004, the intelligence dossier justifying the Iraq invasion in 2003 and "a sex act too revolting to describe" with a rent boy by Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Mark Oaten in 2004.
We may rarely have a splinter in our eye, Mr Hollinrake, but we suggest you examine the log in those of your colleagues.