Fujitsu may encounter ‘cash penalties’ in Post Office scandal

January 10, 2024
1 min read

Fujitsu, the IT services company, may face “financial sanctions” in connection with the ongoing scandal involving the Post Office and its Horizon IT system. In December, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that the Post Office had shown “oppressive” behaviour in relation to subpostmasters affected by accounting shortfalls that the Post Office had attributed to the Horizon system. Fujitsu, which was responsible for the development and support of Horizon, will now be investigated by forensic accountants at at the Centre for Criminal and Civil Evidence. The company may be subject to penalties if the Centre finds that it colluded in the alleged abuse by the Post Office. Two Post Office employees who previously worked for Fujitsu have already been prosecuted for false accounting related to the scandal.

In December, the Court of Appeal also criticised the actions of the Fujitsu Financial Services, a division of Fujitsu, for its handling of a template being used to represent the financial position of a group of around 85 subpostmasters, which the court said “contained dishonestly created or untrue information”.

Fujitsu also faces potential lawsuits from hundreds of postmasters due to its involvement in the Horizon scandal. James Hartley, a solicitor representing a group of postmasters, said that Fujitsu had known for a long time that there were serious problems with the Horizon system, which it failed to address.

The Horizon system has been alleged to be responsible for accounting irregularities that led to the sackings, bankruptcies, and criminal prosecutions of hundreds of postmasters. The Post Office has made compensation payments to some of the affected individuals, but the total bill is estimated to be as high as £100m. The scandal has also prompted a government inquiry, which was launched in 2020.

The case raises questions about accountability and negligence in the technology industry, as well as the potential for technological solutions to erode trust and lead to significant harm. The scandal also highlights the need for robust regulation and oversight of technology companies and the systems they develop and maintain.

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