• Archive for the ‘The Firms’ Category

    Update: Botta v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Case 3:18-cv-02615-RS

    By • Jun 30th, 2019

    A judge denied PwC’s motion for summary judgement. The case goes to trial in October. Mauro Botta brought an action in district court in California against PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP alleging that PwC wrongfully terminated him in retaliation for a whistleblower complaint he made to the Securities and Exchange Commission about PwC’s auditing practices. There’s been a lot written about the case, which is ongoing.



    An SEC Fine for KPMG in the PCAOB Data Theft Scandal and Another Horrible Revelation

    By • Jun 26th, 2019

    “Innovation demands risk-taking… which, in turn, entails redefining failure, stripping away its power to inhibit.” Chairman and CEO of KPMG Lynne Doughtie

    The Securities and Exchange Commission settled charges on Monday with KPMG LLP for the ongoing case of its partners altering past audit work after receiving stolen information about inspections of the firm that would be conducted by its regulator, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board or PCAOB. Five former KPMG officials were charged last year in the case that alleged they schemed to interfere with the PCAOB’s ability to detect audit deficiencies at KPMG. Two have pleaded guilty, two were found guilty and one is still pending trial.

    But in a new almost more egregious revelation, the SEC’s order also finds that KPMG audit professionals, including lead audit engagement partners sent exam answers related to mandatory continuing professional education, ethics and integrity, and training mandated by a prior SEC order finding audit failures to other partners, and also solicited answers from and sent answers to their subordinates to help them also attain passing scores. In addition to paying a $50 million penalty, KPMG is required to evaluate its quality controls relating to ethics and integrity, identify audit professionals that violated ethics and integrity requirements in connection with training examinations within the past three years, and comply with a cease-and-desist order. The SEC’s order requires KPMG to retain an independent consultant to review and assess the firm’s ethics and integrity controls and its investigation. I will be writing more soon.



    The Question of the KPMG Whistleblower

    By • Mar 10th, 2019

    The timeline of who told whom what and when, this time around for KPMG, is a bit more complicated than David Middendorf described in his testimony in the criminal case against him for allegedly conspiring to steal PCAOB inspection data.



    McKenna On Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, and Kraft Heinz

    By • Mar 3rd, 2019

    Has Warren Buffett run out of long-run? The stars aligned and Warren Buffett issued an annual shareholder letter that was forced to include an embarrassing charge for significant losses on Berkshire Hathaway’s investment in Kraft Heinz. Buffett’s letter was a rant against GAAP, and a 180 degree turn from his typical long-term focus. I was in New York […]



    Deloitte US First Female CEO; There’s More We Don’t Know

    By • Mar 2nd, 2015

    Wouldn’t it be nice if investors and other interested parties could look up new Deloitte US CEO Cathy Engelbert in a public and easily accessible registry and find out about all the audit clients where she has been a lead partner or a Quality Control partner? Has she ever been named in a lawsuit or been sanctioned? Let’s hope not.



    Piling Up For PwC

    By • Nov 18th, 2014

    Update: The PCAOB is investigating PwC for its tax avoidance advice to Caterpillar, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. One down, more than 100+ PwC audit clients advised via Luxembourg to go…



    Not That Satisfying: SEC Slams KPMG For Independence Violations

    By • Jan 28th, 2014

    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.



    Winning! PwC Argues Both Sides Of The Partner Naming Debate

    By • Dec 19th, 2013

    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.



    E&Y, Their Audit Client Wal-Mart, and Value Pricing

    By • Mar 23rd, 2013

    This post about Ernst & Young’s aggressive tax advice to audit client Wal-Mart was originally posted October 29, 2007. It’s worth everyone – I’m talking to you SEC and PCAOB – taking another look at this given Wal-Mart’s new Mexican bribery problems and the SEC investigation of Ernst & Young for tax lobbying to audit clients. (Ernst & Young has been silent and left out of most media discussion about Wal-Mart’s FCPA problems in Mexico and elsewhere.)



    Big Four Auditors and Jury Trials: Not In The U.S.

    By • Jun 19th, 2012

    You have to go outside of the US to see a trial of a Big Four audit firm to know what I’m talking about. Australia’s Centro case against PwC or Canada’s Nortel case where Deloitte partners testified recently tell you everything you need to know about why the Big Four will settle every time. Rather than have a jury and the public hear and see the pathetic state of the audit profession, its inability to stop executives who want to cheat, and its unwillingness to acknowledge liability as a firm when it screws up, the firms will reach into their seemingly bottomless pockets and pay up.