Nathan Skinner reports on the continuing Independent fraud case

Indie trial jurors enjoyed a swifter pace of progress over the last week as the debate switched to the company’s financial reporting.

Auditor witnesses claimed that senior management pressurised them into postponing two key London market audits. Prosecutors claim this misled the board over company finances.

But, the defence argued there were legitimate business reasons for postponing the audit and that the autonomous audit committee had agreed to the request for a delay.

On news of the postponement, Daniel Hod-son, the audit committee chairman, said he sought out company directors Michael Bright and Philip Condon to express his unease.

Gareth Rees QC asserted that Hodson had shown no objection to the postponement of the audit at a board meeting. The auditors confirmed their concerns over Independent’s levels of reserving, which resulted in renegotiation of the company’s reinsurance contracts.

According to prosecutors, company chairman Bright had come to a gentleman’s agreement with his reinsurers. Hodson said he had not been informed of other contractual agreement prior to signing off on the company’s 2000 financial report.

The trial continues.