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Mike Hoare and his son, Chris Hoare

Chartered accountant turned mercenary dies at 100


Soldier of fortune ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare, who was infamously excluded from ICAEW after a failed coup d’etat in the Seychelles in 1981, died in South Africa aged 100 this week.  

7th Feb 2020
Editor AccountingWEB
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Accountants are often unfairly labelled dull or risk-averse, but clearly no one told that to former chartered accountant and infamous mercenary Michael “Mad Mike” Hoare.  

From serving as a British army captain in North Africa during the second world war to conducting mercenary operations in the Congolese province of Katanga, Hoare lived a life unlike many accountants.

Hoare qualified as an ICAEW member in 1948 after the second world war and remained a member throughout his mercenary activities. This was a sore point for the institute, which was unable to expel him because his controversial mercenary operations in the Congo were surprisingly not sufficient grounds for exclusion and he always paid his membership subscription on time.

But the end of Hoare’s mercenary career also spelled the end of his ICAEW membership. In 1981 Mad Mike attempted to overthrow the socialist government in the Seychelles. Hoare and his mercenary team’s plan collapsed before they left Seychelles International Airport. Disguised as a Johannesburg beer-drinking club, the men didn’t make it through customs after one of the men accidentally joined the “something to declare” line and an officer discovered an AK-47 hidden beneath the false bottom of their luggage.

A fight broke out which led to the Hoare and his team hijacking an Air India Boeing aircraft and forcing the pilot to fly them to South Africa. Hoare was later found guilty for his role in the hijacking.

Not only was Hoare sentenced to 10 years in prison, of which he served three, but now with a criminal record, the institute had enough reason to exclude him in 1983. “If there’s one thing that bloody hurts, it’s that,” joked Hoare about his ban.

Mercenary career

Although Hoare’s name is synonymous with his military career and mercenary adventures, accountancy was part of his life before all of that. He started his training soon after leaving Margate College before the outbreak of WWII.

Whatever his skills as an accountant, Hoare’s mercenary activity will be what he’s remembered for. Aside from the Seychelles debacle, the most notorious episode saw Hoare lead his 5 Commando unit along with Belgian paratroopers to rescue over 1,000 civilian hostages held by Simba rebels in Stanleyville in Operation Dragon Rouge.   

Hoare’s 5 Commando strikes were driven in part by his desire to “rid the Congo of the greatest cancer the world has ever known—the creeping, insidious disease of communism”.

His life even inspired the 1978 film The Wild Geese, where Richard Burton’s Colonel Faulkner’s character was reportedly based on Hoare.

Born Dull?!

It’s tough to think of anyone else who demolished the dull accountant stereotype as completely as Hoare, who is a shoe-in for induction to AccountingWEB’s Born Dull?! pantheon

In recent years, though, AccountingWEB’s Born Dull?! coverage has seen other numbercrunchers shirk off the staid stereotype and become real-life action heroes. The most recent was Chris Norman, the former partner at Deloitte who collected France’s highest honour for valour – the Legion d’honneur. Along with three off-duty US servicemen, the former Deloitte enterprise risk services partner threw caution to the wind and tackled an armed terrorist on a train bound for Paris in 2015.

Assuming that he “was probably going to die anyway” Norman told a press conference: “I’d rather die being active, trying to get him down, than simply sit in the corner and be shot.”

It’s a fitting tribute to Hoare, who lived by the philosophy: “You get more out of life by living dangerously.”

Which, as his son pointed out to CNN, “makes his hundred [years] all the more extraordinary".

Replies (12)

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By cereus77
07th Feb 2020 10:43

When training to be an accountant,
I recall being told by one of the lecturers that the actual reason Mike [***] was expelled from the ICAEW was failure to keep up his professional subscription - nothing to do with his unethical mercenary activities! It raised a laugh in the classroom at the time but whether it is true - who knows?

Thanks (1)
Replying to cereus77:
07th Feb 2020 12:23

The disciplinary report published at the time said it was because he had been put in prison - which was cause for automatic exclusion, rather than anything he had done. I presume it was because it was easier to prove without having a what would amount to a trial, although the implication was it was acceptable to attempt to overthrow a government by force as long as you didn't get locked up for it.

Thanks (0)
Replying to cereus77:
By hwillia2
07th Feb 2020 12:36

Hi Cereus77, I think that may have been me if you went to what would have been the Polytechnic of Wales at the time. It was always one of my favourite bits of trivia!
Hywel Williams

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By Nick Graves
07th Feb 2020 11:52

IIRC it was reported in Accountancy Age (or somesuch) when they DID finally manage to expel him for having a criminal record. Brightened up another dull read.

One of my accounting heroes; mainly for the chagrin he caused to the ICAEW!

Thanks (1)
By Arbitrary
07th Feb 2020 11:58

I am reminded of Mike Palin wanting to be a lion tamer in that Monty Python sketch.

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By [email protected]
07th Feb 2020 12:23

If memory serves the coup attempt was 'conduct likely to bring the institute into disrepute'. It was reported in Accountancy Age (Taking Stock page on the back) that throughout his career he had just carried on paying his subscription and nobody had noticed; at least until the highjack!

Thanks (1)
Replying to [email protected]:
By rememberscarborough
07th Feb 2020 13:33

Probably more trustworthy than your average set of audited accounts....

Thanks (3)
By The Black Knight
07th Feb 2020 12:31

good boy

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By tedbuck
07th Feb 2020 16:10

'conduct likely to bring the institute into disrepute'

I presume therefore that the auditors of Pat Val, Carillion, etc. etc. are all going to be tossed out of the ICAEW on those grounds.

As if!

At least he was doing some good or trying to - best publicity accountants have had for years.

Thanks (4)
By carnmores
08th Feb 2020 14:25

the Times obit said non payment of sub was the reason for exclusion. Thats how i left 12 glorious years ago

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By mike_thompson
12th Feb 2020 16:19

They say the good die young, obviously true in his case. Good riddance.

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By AndrewV12
13th Feb 2020 11:43

Well at least he probably knew how to keep his clients in line and pay their fees, assuming he had any.

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