Financial regulator to carry out independent investigation into failed investment strategies

3 January 2024

The UK body that regulates auditors and accountants has today announced it will begin an investigation into an individual's conduct regarding the financial management of Thurrock Council’s failed investment strategies.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has stated it will investigate the individual’s compliance with governance and professional standards relating to Thurrock Council's operations and investment activities for the financial years ended 31 March 2018 to 31 March 2022.

The FRC is the independent, investigative and disciplinary body for auditors, accountants and actuaries in the UK dealing with cases which raise important issues affecting the public interest. The FRC investigation is being carried out under the FRC: Accountancy Scheme, which covers individual members and member firms 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.

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

Cllr Andrew Jefferies, Leader of Thurrock Council, said: "I strongly welcome today's 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.

"This shows our commitment to being open and doing whatever we can to address what happened before. We are determined to work with commissioners to drive improvement and return to financial sustainability. We are taking all appropriate action to recover the council’s financial position while ensuring that we protect vulnerable residents and essential services."

Dr Dave Smith, Chief Executive and Managing Director Commissioner, said: "The council is undergoing essential change to make it fit for the future. We will learn from the lessons of the past to ensure we become the best council we can be – an efficient and accountable council that our residents deserve.

"The FRC investigation is an important step in understanding the issues the council faced as we work at pace on delivering improvements that will make a real difference for the people we serve."

All queries about the investigation should be directed to the FRC. Contact details are on the announcement on their website at FRC: Investigation regarding the conduct of a member in relation to Thurrock Council's operations and investment activities.