A €40,000 pudding…

If you’re gong to hide cash then I guess hiding it in the oven may not be a good idea.

Alberto Vazzoler used to be a dentist. He moved on from that but his new activities were allegedly far from legal as he’s currently on trial in Italy accused of money laundering.

Money Laundering is where “dirty” illegally obtained money is “washed” and then reintroduced into general circulation as clean money. In simple terms, criminals disguise the method of obtaining the money from criminal activities to make it look as though it was derived from legitimate sources.

Now although Mr Vazzoler was a dentist, he’s been accused of making serious amounts of money by way of laundering more than €46 million for criminals across Europe.

Together with his accomplices, he’s been accused of channelling funds through various off shore tax havens and amongst other things, “cleaning” some money by way of converting cash into gold.

His girlfriend, Silvia Moro, has also been charged with money laundering.

Details of some expensive cooking emerged during a court session last week when an investigator told the course that Ms Moro sent a WhatsApp message to her sister saying “I’ve done a stupid thing. I put a strudel in the oven to cook where €40,000 was hidden.”

Although a cost of €40,000 would probably make the strudel the most expensive pudding in the world I guess that the couple have more pressing things on their minds now they are in court charged with money laundering and tax evasion which could result in a lengthy prison sentence.

Would you stand for this?

Do you work in an office? Do you sit down at your desk most of the working day?

If you do, then it may be a good idea to ensure you stand up and move around a bit during the day.

Recent research has estimated that 1 in 9 deaths can be blamed on sitting down for at least 6 hours a day.

Let’s pause for a moment as that’s a shocking figure!

In the UK alone that would equate to thousands of people dying every year due to lack of movement and the cost to the National Health Service is estimated at £700 million annually.

Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health estimated that 17% of diabetes, 5% of heart disease and 8% of lung cancer cases could be avoided with less sitting.

Leonie Heron from Queen’s University Belfast was the lead author of the study and said “You need to put your body under a little bit of stress to maintain a healthy heart and whole system”.

She went on to say that “It suggests that it is bad for our health how our working lives are structured for a lot of people. You can attenuate that risk by being more active in your leisure time, but it’s something employers can look at. Maybe they should be providing opportunities for employees to be active during the day, perhaps making sure people move every hour…or providing opportunities during lunch and coffee breaks.”

My guess is that a lot of you do sit down for at least 6 hours a day working at your computer. It’s probably a good idea therefore to remind yourself to get up and move a bit when you can as it will be good for your health.

Unless, that is of course, you’re getting up to walk out of the office to have a cigarette…

Causing a bit of a stink…

There’s no room in the modern workplace for bullying and intimidating work colleagues.

Companies should have anti bullying practices in place and in most countries around the world there are laws to protect people who are being bullied.

The Oxford dictionary defines bullying as seeking to “harm, intimidate, or coerce someone perceived as vulnerable” but in some situations it’s difficult to decide whether or not an activity is actually bullying.

Over in Australia a worker claimed that he was bullied by a colleague who repeatedly broke wind at him.

David Hingst claimed that his ex-colleague Greg Short would “lift his bum and fart” on him up to 6 times a day.

Mr Hingst didn’t take this well and sued his former employer for A$1.8m (nearly £1m).

Now, let’s pause here for a moment and hold our breath.

Bullying in the workplace is clearly wrong but claiming damages of nearly £1 million when somebody breaks wind in front of you does seem a bit steep.

Mr Hingst was adamant though and last year took his case to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

The Court found that there was no bullying.

Mr Hingst didn’t agree with the decision and appealed against it and last week the appeal was heard by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Hingst reportedly told the Australian Associated Press that “I would be sitting with my face to the wall and he would come into the room, which was small and had no windows. He would fart behind me and walk away. He would do this five or six times a day”.

Mr Short, the alleged perpetrator of this “crime” had said that he may “have done it once or twice” but denied doing it with the intention of distressing or harassing Mr Hingst.

Alas for Mr Hingst, the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal and found there was no bullying.

Mr Hingst though isn’t taking this sitting down and reportedly has said that he plans to appeal to the High Court.

How many accountants?

So, how do you think accounting firms are doing when it comes to their fee income?

In today’s uncertain economic times then surely there’s pressure on the fees that accountants can charge. Surely, their fee revenue will be falling?

The answer is the complete opposite.

Each year, the International Accounting Bulletin (IAB) publishes a world ranking of accounting firms on the basis of their fee income. The latest results for 2018 have just been released and they are looking pretty good for the firms.

All of the top 10 firms increased their fee income in 2018 when compared to 2017. The majority saw increases of at least 10%.

The 10 largest firms had 2018 global revenues of:

  1. Deloitte – $43.2bn (up 11% from the previous year).
  2. PwC – $41.28bn (up 10%)
  3. EY – $34.77bn (up 11%)
  4. KPMG – $28.96bn (up 10%)
  5. BDO – $8.99nb (up 11%)
  6. Grant Thornton – $5.44bn (up 9%)
  7. RSM – $5.37bn (up 5%)
  8. Crowe – $4.33bn (up 14%)
  9. Nexia International – $4bn (up 10%)
  10. Baker Tilly International – $3.63bn (up 7%)

Whilst the top 10 firms all saw significant increases, the international associations of accountancy firms also did very well.

These associations are networks of independent accounting firms who operate by way of alliances.

There were 31 associations in the IAB listing and they are pretty significant.

The largest association is Praxity which had a turnover of $5.83 bn. Together, the 31 networks had combined revenue of $196bn.

It’s not just fee income which is impressive. The firms also employ significant numbers of people. All of the Big 4 employ more than 200,000 people with Deloitte being the largest employer with a workforce of 286,000.

Let’s pause for a moment.

286,000.

That’s a huge number of people. Over a quarter of a million people work for Deloitte.

All in all, the accountancy profession around the world seems to be going well.