A senior PwC partner who has been accused in a £63m lawsuit of leaking sensitive client information has left the Big Four firm.
Ian Green left the firm on 30 June according to Companies House filings. Green was appointed as the firm’s head of the north of England in August 2019 but stepped down from the role in summer 2020. He was previously head of the firm’s business recovery practice.
Aquis Exchange-listed Watchstone, an insurance and technology group formerly known as Quindell, has accused Green of leaking its information to a banker at Greenhill & Co in 2015. The banker was advising law firm Slater & Gordon, which was in talks to acquire the firm’s professional services arm.
In a market update on 16 August, Watchstone said: “We are satisfied that we have a very strong case and are determined to take the claim to trial, should that prove necessary.”
A spokesperson for PwC said Green’s retirement had “been planned for some time and is not related to the claim”.
Financial News called multiple phone numbers listed for Green on archived versions of the PwC website and sought to contact him by email but Green could not be reached for comment.
Watchstone said the first hearings in the case would take place next month, but said it did not expect a full trial before 2023.
A PwC spokesperson said: “We deny these allegations and are vigorously defending this claim. It would be inappropriate to comment further on an ongoing legal matter.”
In its defence to the claim, filed with the High Court on 16 October 2020, PwC denied Green had leaked information about the company.
“It is denied that PwC through Mr Ian Green (or otherwise) divulged confidential information relating to Quindell,” the defence said.
PwC admitted that Green met with Gareth Davies, the Greenhill & Co investment banker, on 15 January 2015 at PwC’s offices, but said this was “a short and informal coffee meeting between individuals who were known to one another [as] business acquaintances”.
The meeting first came to light during a previous court case, in which Slater & Gordon accused Quindell of misrepresentation over the value of its professional services division. S&G had bought the unit for £637m in 2015. That case was settled out of court in 2019.
During that case, an email from Davies emerged detailing the meeting with an acquaintance described as “head of PwC restructuring”.
PwC had been appointed in 2014 to review Quindell’s finances and to recommend any changes to its accounting practices. Quindell paid PwC more than £5m in fees during 2014 and 2015.
According to the particulars of Watchstone’s claim, Davies told colleagues that “if we find [Quindell] are in a real corner we can take them to the cleaners”.
In an email to colleagues at Greenhill following the meeting, Davies said Green had told him Quindell would run out of cash in mid-2015 and that Green would “quietly” look further into the company’s finances on the behalf of Davies and Slater & Gordon.
In its defence document, PwC denied Green said Quindell would run out of cash in mid-2015.
The firm also said the information in Davies’ email “(to the extent that it was information, as opposed to speculation or opinion, and to the extent that it was accurate) was already in the public domain and/or already known to Greenhill”.
Watchstone is separately suing its former auditor KPMG over its work on Quindell’s 2013 accounts, which were restated the next year.
KPMG was fined £4.5m by the Financial Reporting Council in 2018 for its 2013 audit of Quindell.
“The preliminary work for a claim against [KPMG] is advanced and, if not settled, we expect to file the claim before the end of 2021,” Watchstone told the market on 16 August.
A spokesperson for KPMG declined to comment.
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