Danny McCance 2 Jan 2018 01:02pm

KPMG accused of conflict of interest over Hinkley Point C

The Big Four firm was paid £4.4m by the UK government between 2012 and 2017 for its advisory work on Hinkley Point C, despite informing them it was also advising the Chinese investor

KPMG provided advisory services to the departments for energy and business while it also serviced China General Nuclear Power Corp, a Times investigation found.

Details surrounding the conflict were revealed after the Information Commissioner’s Office pressed for disclosure of information from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

It emerged that officials had allegedly redacted information – which the Times received more than a year ago following a freedom of information request – under the pretence that it was commercially sensitive.

“In July 2012 KPMG was appointed by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), as a financial and commercial advisor, to advise DECC in the negotiations of the Contract for Difference with EDF for the Hinkley Point C project,” a KPMG spokesman said.

“The KPMG UK energy practice works across the sector, with both government and companies, helping to solve some of the sector’s biggest issues.”

The spokesman added that KPMG has “robust processes to identify and manage conflicts of interest”, but that due to client confidentiality it was “unable to comment further on the work undertaken for specific clients”.

The investigation also revealed another potential conflict of interest involving financial advisory firm Lazard, which was paid £2.6m between 2012 and 2015 for its advice to the business department.

However, previously redacted tender documents revealed that it also advised the French energy company EDF.

Lazard has been contacted for comment.

The Hinkley Point C project on the Somerset coast, undertaken by EDF, will be the first new nuclear reactor to be built in Britain in more than 20 years.