AMS Group appointed SNP auditorby
Manchester-based AMS Accountants Group has stepped into the political firing line by accepting the appointment as auditor for the Scottish National Party (SNP).
One of Humza Yousaf’s first duties after being elected SNP leader at the end of March was to find a new auditor after he discovered the long-term incumbent Johnston Carmichael had resigned the appointment several months before.
The portents were not good, with the party’s former CEO Peter Murrell under investigation by the police. The police staged a dramatic raid on the Glasgow house he shares with former party leader Nicola Sturgeon and towed away a motorhome from his mother’s home in Fife. Murrell was later released without charge.
Two weeks later, party treasurer Colin Beattie was also arrested. He too was released without charge, but resigned his position immediately afterwards.
Maelstrom of intrigue
In taking on the audit appointment, which was announced by Yousaf (above) on Wednesday morning, AMS is entering a maelstrom of political intrigue, controversy and reputational risk. The accountant will have to undertake a very rapid review of the party’s Westminster group accounts to meet a 31 May parliamentary reporting deadline. If the financial statements are not agreed and filed in time, the SNP risks losing £1.2m in parliamentary funding.
For its next act, the auditor will have to ensure the 2021/22 accounts are audited and filed with the Electoral Commission by 7 July. Failure to do so could leave the client facing a civil sanction of up to £5,000.
One anomaly the new auditor will need to resolve before then is the whereabouts and documentation for around half a million pounds raised by SNP activists to support the campaign for a second independence referendum. This apparent slush fund was the trigger for Police Scotland’s investigation into potential fraud.
In the latest accounts filed, the party posted a £751,572 deficit on income of £4.5m for the year to 31 December 2021. But public records also show that Murrell had loaned the party £107,000 to cover a cashflow gap after the last election. Around half of that amount has been repaid, according to Electoral Commission records.
“We take our statutory obligations extremely seriously, so it is welcome news that AMS Accountants Group will complete the accounts for both the party and the SNP Westminster group,” said Yousaf.
“There is hard work ahead, but it is really encouraging to have them on board as we work towards challenging deadlines.
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