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.
Archive for the ‘The Firms’ Category
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.
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.)
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.
Yesterday’s column at American Banker digs into the accounting for JP Morgan’s reported “hedge”. I was shocked – OK, not really – that no main stream media outlet had explained the stunning announcement made by Jamie Dimon last Thursday.
I was the first to report on December 6 the irony of Deloitte having been selected by, of all banks, JP Morgan Chase. The high likelihood of a conflict between the bank and the audit firm, and possibly the individual Deloitte partners assigned to the JP Morgan Chase review, should have been obvious to anyone at the OCC. It turns out I was right.
re: The Auditors has seen a confidential, internal Deloitte training document, prepared this past summer, that reveals the firm expects the worst when the inspection reports for their 2009, 2010, and 2011 audits are published by the PCAOB. Is Deloitte truly committed to a sea change in tone as well as technique? I’m not convinced.
My October 6 column for American Banker was cited by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and others to support the strong management of conflicts of interest by the OCC in the mortgage servicer reviews as well as full disclosure of vendors and their engagement letters with the banks. On November 22, 2011, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) disclosed the names of the consultants, their clients and redacted versions of the engagement letters between the banks and consultants.
Let’s not forget PricewaterhouseCoopers, MF Global’s auditors.
When it comes to hands-on access to private information, the auditor has more than any other regulator mentioned. And they are supposed to be experts in that client’s business and in the accounting and auditing standards for that industry. PwC also audits JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs. They are all large players in the futures brokerage industry.