Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Seventh Report

Annex T

Letter to Mr M Fishman, Joint Administrator, Arthur Andersen,

from Mr Mark A Fisher, National Westminster Bank


Bernard Horn is currently on leave and has asked me to respond to your enquiry regarding the above. I apologise for the delay in responding but I am sure you will appreciate the difficulties inherent in researching an entry after so long a period of time.

I can confirm that cheque number 1751 was debited to the account of Pergamon AGB plc, number 04203607 on 11 December 1990 in the amount of £200,000 as suggested by your query. The cheque was paid in at our Tavistock Square Branch but we have no way now of identifying the account into which it was paid.

Our normal retention policy would not maintain items in storage from this date. Furthermore, we have confirmed that the account in question was a 'voucher account' meaning that paid cheques should have been returned to the account holder with the relevant statement. Nevertheless, my staff have carried out a careful manual search of the various storage premises where such an item could possibly be found if it indeed was still held by us. We have not been able to find it.

We have also explored the possibility of tracing the item through our electronic audit trails. Once again our date retention policies mean that we do not have a complete electronic trail for this period. However, we do have a partial trail and I have put in place a systems change to prevent further data being deleted for the time being.

Our reconstruction of the credit clearing is inconclusive. We have identified that a credit for £200,000 was remitted to our Birmingham City Office from Tavistock Square Branch through the clearing system on the date in question. The credit in question did not carry account details within our system which indicates that it was hand-written counter credit. I have searched our remaining records for Birmingham City Office but have been unable to identify the account to which this entry was placed. I must stress that this credit may be completely unrelated to the cheque which is the subject of your enquiry.

I hope that the above will be of some assistance to you.

31 March 1999

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