It’s been a mixed year for Piet Hein Meeter the (former) chief executive of Deloitte in the Netherlands.
It started well for him as he was appointed as the new CEO of the Dutch operations of Deloitte on the 1st of January this year.
However within a few months his fortunes have changed dramatically.
Deloitte recently announced that Mr Meeter had resigned from his position due to “infringement of independence rules which surfaced following a routine internal compliance review arranged by Deloitte”.
The background to this is all about auditor independence.
In order for auditors to be able to do their job of “checking the books” of clients they have to be independent. After all, if an auditor is not independent from the company he is checking then there’s a risk that he or she may give a biased or incorrect opinion on matters.
In the case of Mr Meeter it seems that he had shareholdings in some of the clients of Deloitte Netherlands and hence broke independence rules (i.e. he headed up an audit company that checked the accounts of a company which he part owned).
It does seem rather strange that Mr Meeter held these shares as it’s a fundamental independence issue for senior staff and partners within accounting firms not to hold shares in clients.
It may well have been a simple but extreme case of oversight by him as there was no evidence of him benefiting from his shareholding and position (the investigation by Deloitte pointed out that “Meeter had no involvement in any of the audits of the applicable companies and that Deloitte’s independence as audit firm of these clients has not been impacted).
Deloitte quite rightly acted quickly though to avoid any potential problems and Mr Meeter is now no longer with Deloitte.
We wish his successor, Mr Peter Bommel, the best of luck in his new role.
Mr Bommel is currently the interim CEO of Deloitte Netherlands and no doubt has recently reviewed his personal investments very carefully to ensure that there is no repeat of Mr Meeter’s error.