PWC could face legal action over claims it leaked highly sensitive information about one of its clients
PWC could face legal action over claims it leaked highly sensitive information about one of its clients.
The accountant advised Quindell in 2015 when the scandal-hit insurer was trying to sell its professional services arm for £637m to legal firm Slater & Gordon (S&G).
But in court documents, PwC has been accused of betraying Quindell’s confidence.
Under pressure: The documents allege an unnamed PwC partner set up a secret ‘back channel’ to leak details
The documents allege an unnamed PwC partner set up a secret ‘back channel’ to leak details about his client’s finances to a representative of Greenhill, the investment bank working as S&G’s advisers. This gave S&G the upper hand in sales talks, it is claimed.
A High Court battle between S&G and Quindell, now known as Watchstone, was settled out of court yesterday.
S&G sued Watchstone in 2017 for allegedly misrepresenting the true value of its professional services business.
Watchstone counter-sued, claiming the PwC back channel meant S&G knew more about its finances than it had previously admitted. A trial was due to begin this week but was called off after the parties reached the last-minute settlement. But a source close to Watchstone said it was considering taking PwC to court.
Shares in Watchstone surged after it resolved the High Court battle.
It faced claims it misrepresented the true value of its professional services arm before the business was sold to S&G four years ago.
The firms were set to clash in a nine-week trial starting in the High Court yesterday, but instead they announced a settlement. Watchstone will pay S&G £11m but retain another £39m plus interest that was being held while proceedings took place.
Neither firm admitted liabilities and they are not seeking costs from one another. Watchstone shares rose 45 per cent, or 48p, to 155p.
Such a move would be yet another blow to the accountant when it is already facing increased scrutiny over a string of scandals that have led to fines from regulators. Greenhill did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokesman for Watchstone declined to comment yesterday on whether it would sue PwC. But a source told the Mail: ‘We are considering legal action.’
Last night a spokesman for PwC said it would ‘vigorously defend any claim should one be brought’.
Speaking about the settlement reached with S&G, Watchstone chairman Richard Rose said: ‘We are pleased with the resolution of this matter.’