A new KPMG tax shelter era document surfaced, in original format, that had not yet been cited or quoted from in any media reports. The document tells us that late in the negotiations, June 27, 2005 the DOJ still would not agree to all of KPMG’s terms, including promising not to criminally charge the firm. But the decision to make sure the firm did not “go under” had already been made. KPMG and its Skadden attorneys only had to make sure the DOJ didn’t, in a misguided show of sheer aggressiveness, cause another Arthur Andersen.
Archive for the ‘Regulators, Laws, Standards, Regulations’ Category
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.
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.
We now know more about what the firms have been hiding. The global capital markets, not just current shareholders, need full disclosure of the engagement teams on all public issuers over time, and in a way that is easily accessible.
Big egos making shares move by waving their wands. That makes picking stocks based on fundamental analysis more than slightly anachronistic. A bit about Herbalife…
Pete Brush at Law.com did a story last week about a story about in pari delicto, the adverse interest exception, and holding third-parties like auditors liable for fraud in bankruptcy cases. I was quoted.
This is the fourth big insider trading case in the least few years against a senior tenured partner that betrayed the public’s trust. In none of the cases did the firm’s “extensive” and “comprehensive” independence compliance programs spot the behavior or the illegal actions. Stay tuned. There will be much more to this story, I guarantee.
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.)
The issue of tax avoidance by corporations is a hot one. In the US and in the UK, legislators and pundits seeking “tax justice” have changed the discussion from one of tax breaks that stimulate “jobs and growth” to one of tax fairness to provide much needed funds for public works and public commitments in times of economic hardship. The Big Four audit firms play all sides like a fiddle.
It’s easy to forget, with all the propaganda being published by major media, why these Fed/OCC consent decrees were issued in the first place. The fact that a borrower may be in default does not negate the overwhelming evidence that court cases have provided that banks proceeded fraudulently and illegally in some foreclosures and looted those borrowers and institutional investors in mortgage securities by charging fraudulent and illegal fees in the process.