UK lawmakers back appointment of new audit watchdog chair du Plessis

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Jan du Plessis, the Chairman of Rio Tinto, attends the mining company's AGM at the QEII centre in central London April 18, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

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LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - British lawmakers have endorsed the appointment of former BT Group chairman Jan du Plessis as the new chair of the Financial Reporting Council, which regulates auditing and corporate governance standards.

Parliament's business committee chair Darren Jones said du Plessis has demonstrated a strong understanding of the challenges facing the FRC, not least concerning the immediate issues relating to its own governance.

Du Plessis, born in South Africa and trained as a chartered accountant, is a former chair of BT Group, Rio Tinto, SABMiller and British American Tobacco. He was nominated by the business ministry and needed parliamentary endorsement to start the job.

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At a parliamentary hearing earlier this week, du Plessis said governance of the FRC was in a "pretty poor state" and pledged to make improvements within 2-3 months.

"We expect Sir Jan to now demonstrate the independence, challenge, and drive necessary to ensure the FRC is able to intervene to correct problems in the audit sector, and prepare for its future role in overseeing corporate governance more widely," Jones said in a statement.

Du Plessis said he would "jack up" scrutiny of auditors, adding that the boards of companies being audited also needed to up their game. read more

Accountants are waiting for the business ministry to set out reforms to improve quality and increase competition in auditing.

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Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Alex Richardson

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