The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the UK regulator of the accountancy trade, is investigating an unnamed number of accountants and actuaries employed to work for the pension schemes of Guinness Peat Group.
The allegations, which relate to schemes sponsored by the company now trading as Coats Group, concern eight years of conduct from 2004 onwards, according to a statement by the FRC.
“The decision to investigate,” the FRC said, “follows a referral from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries regarding matters arising from the Pension Regulator’s (TPR) own ongoing investigation into the group’s pension scheme arrangements.”
A spokesman declined to specify the number of individuals involved and said it did not disclose names of individuals while under investigation.
However, the complaints are likely to relate to individuals rather than the conduct of specific accountancy firms or actuarial consultancies, as the FRC has previously named companies under investigation.
The statement did not specify which of the company’s three pension funds were affected by the work undertaken by those under investigation, nor did it specify what area of work by the professionals was being queried.
TPR has long been in discussions with the threadmaking company.
In February, the firm announced it would be retaining $505m (£342m) to address funding shortfalls within the Brunel, Staveley and Coats UK pension schemes.
In its most recent half-yearly report, published 28 July, Coats says it has yet to settle its talks with TPR but re-emphasises its intention to address funding shortfalls with the $505m retained within the company.
The company’s half-yearly report adds: “There are active discussions as to the support structure provided by the parent group cash and the level of annual deficit recovery payments.
“If a settlement cannot be reached, and the investigation process continues, Coats believes any hearing is unlikely before the fourth quarter of 2016 at the earliest.”
It notes that only once a settlement with TPR is reached will the regulator withdraw its Warning Notice, first issued in early 2014.