How do professionals forget what’s right and wrong? Adolf Eichmann was a “new type of criminal, who is actually hostis generic humani . . . [and] commits his crimes under circumstances that make it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he is doing wrong.”
Archive for the ‘Pure Content’ Category
My notes for guest lectures (there were two sections, back-to-back) February 10, 2014 for Bus F332/Law 725, Finance and Society, at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, taught by Professor Anat Admati. Emphasis: The auditors’ role in corporate governance in financial institutions and specifically how auditors not inadvertently stifle the actual use of compensation clawbacks.
Is it fair to “tar and feather” professionals when they are sued or only when they are convicted of crimes? How much time must pass before they can get on with their lives?
PwC is scheduled to go to trial for malpractice related to the bankruptcy of SemGroup in August, almost six years later. The SemGroup Litigation Trust, pursuing claims on behalf of the company and its creditors, alleges PwC did a terrible audit. But it’s worse than just lousy auditing, especially if a trial exposes the truth of PwC’s disingenuous defenses.
Imagine my surprise when Ben Horowitz, one half of the venture capital team of Andreessen Horowitz, wrote a blog post about dodging a stock option backdating jail term that also implicates PwC.
Now that the Securities and Exchange Commission has crossed KPMG’s independence violations off its to-do list, the agency can move on to the rest of the ones I’ve already identified for them. How about PwC and its business relationships and myriad services provided to audit client Thomson Reuters?
It’s been almost three years since I first broke the story of KPMG’s loaned tax staff arrangement with audit client GE. On January 24 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced an $8.2 million settlement with KPMG over violations of auditor-independence rules. The wheels of justice turn very slowly. But the GE case was not one of the three cited as the subject of the enforcement action.
SEC Administrative Judge Cameron Elliot issued a blistering decision last week in a long-running dispute over regulator access to auditor work papers in fraud investigations. The judge banned the Chinese Big Four firms from auditing US issuers for six months and lambasted them for voluntarily putting their firms “between a rock and a hard place.” The decision is not yet final but the enormous impact is already being felt worldwide.
Your first obligation as a professional is to your client, not your firm, your partners, or even your family.
How do the audit firms keep winning the war while losing battles left and right? They use the law and the courts to delay, deter and distract from transparency by settling, and sealing what they can, before the public can find out what silly arguments they often make in their defense.