The International Development Committee of the House of Commons is holding a meeting next week. On its agenda is, as they note in a press release that I cannot find on the web:
a pre-appointment hearing on Tuesday 26 October, examining the professional competence and personal independence of the Government's preferred candidate for the post of Chief Commissioner of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), Graham Ward.
Graham Ward is a former World Utilities Leader of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) network of firms, a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and a former President of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). He retired from the PwC partnership on 31 January 2010.
Graham Ward’s cv in Debretts is here. Note he is a member of “Soc of Cons Accountants” which I think we can safely assume is the society of Conservative accountants, which seems to blow apart his personal independence,but this is the least of my concerns about this appointment.
This is a man who has gone out of his way to promote International Financial Reporting Standards, which are widely acknowledged to have helped precipitate the current financial crisis.
This is a man who helped promote new international auditing standards which debased the audit so that it no longer represented the expression of opinion on the true and fair view shown by a set of accounts ,but became a simple checklist on compliance with the disclosure requirements of IFRS.
This is a man whose firm audited Northern Rock.
This is a man whose firm audited Granite, the shadow bank of Northern Rock; a shadow that was owned by a trust set up for the benefit of a children's charity in the north-east of England that had no knowledge of the abuse of its name for that purpose.
This is a man whose firm promotes deregulation whenever it can.
This is a man whose firm promotes indirect rather than direct taxation in developing countries, so the poor pay most.
This is a man whose firm is present in every single major tax haven in the world,even though it has been shown that tax havensare fundamental in undermining development.
This is a man whose firm sells vast quantities of tax avoidance advice – advice designed to undermine the income stream of governmentswhen that income is essential to the delivery of effective international development support and the delivery of healthcare, education and other services in developing countries.
This is a man whose firm promotes what they call the “total tax contribution” - a bogus accounting concept that adds up all the payments that a company makes to a tax authority,whether on its own behalf or on behalf of others when acting as agent, and then uses the utterly meaningless resulting number as the basis for a demand for the reduction of its corporate tax burden.
This is a man whose firm opposes country by country reporting even though the vast majority of the major development agencies in the world now supported because they believe it good help monitor transfer pricing abuse,illicit financial flows,and could help developing countries collect the taxes that they are owed.
And for all these reasons,I'm sorry to say that I do not think that this is a man who is due to hold the position for which is being considered.