A British corporate governance watchdog said on Monday that it had begun an investigation into the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers’ auditing of Barclays after the British bank was fined this year for failing to properly segregate billions of pounds in client assets.
The Financial Reporting Council said that it would review PricewaterhouseCoopers’ role in reporting to British regulators on the bank’s compliance with client asset rules from Dec. 31, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2011.
“We take our responsibilities very seriously and remain committed to delivering work to the highest professional standards,”a PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman said. “We will cooperate fully with the F.R.C. in its inquiries.”
In September, Barclays was fined 37.7 million pounds, or about $58.9 million, by the Financial Conduct Authority, a financial services regulator, for “significant weaknesses” in the systems and controls at Barclays’s investment bank from November 2007 to January 2012.
Those control issues potentially put client assets at risk if the bank were ever to become insolvent, the F.C.A. found. The misconduct involved £16.5 billion of assets held by Barclays clients in 95 custodial accounts in 21 countries, the F.C.A. said at the time.
Barclays, which self-reported the issue, said that it did not profit from the conduct and no customers lost money as a result. The issue was isolated to the investment bank and did not impact retail customers, the company said.