Serious Fraud Office Ends Criminal Probe into Quindell PLC

In Spring of 2015, claimant personal injury law firm, Slater and Gordon, completed its acquisition of Quindell PLC’s (now Watchstone PLC) Professional Services Division.[i]

Subsequent to the deal being struck, controversy arose over Quindell’s 2014-published accounts. According to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), these contained substantial restatements of prior year (as at 31 December 2013) revenues, post-tax profits (should have been a £68 million loss rather than £83 million profit) and net assets (these were overestimated by £222 million).[ii]

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was initially involved in investigations,[iii] but authority was later deferred to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), in August 2015, when it opened a criminal investigation into Quindell's business and accounting practices[iv] ─ we reported this back in edition 106 of BC Disease News (here).

Earlier this month, the SFO announced that its probe into Quindell’s affairs had been dropped,[v] though its overarching investigation remains active. Information regarding specific individuals, who presumably remain under scrutiny, is still classified.

 

[i] ‘Slater and Gordon to Acquire Professional Services of Quindell’ (30 March 2015 S&G) <https://www.slatergordon.co.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2015/03/slater-and-gordon-set-to-acquire-law-firm/> accessed 27 May 2020.

[ii] James Phillips, ‘Quindell posts £238m loss and faces SFO criminal investigation’ (5 August 2015 City Wire) <https://www.bc-legal.co.uk/images/pdf/106%20BC%20Disease%20News%20-%2007.08.2015%20Edition%20106.pdf> accessed 27 May 2020.

[iii] Neil Rose, ‘Company “no longer a suspect” in SFO Quindell probe’ (18 May 2020 Legal Futures) <https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/company-no-longer-a-suspect-in-sfo-quindell-probe> accessed 27 May 2020.

[iv] ‘SFO opens Quindell PLC investigation’ (5 August 2015 SFO) <https://www.sfo.gov.uk/2015/08/05/sfo-opens-quindell-plc-investigation/> accessed 27 May 2020.

[v] ‘Quindell PLC (now Watchstone PLC)’ (28 April 2020 SFO) https://www.sfo.gov.uk/cases/quindell-plc/> accessed 27 May 2020.