PwC Put Guy Who Whitewashed For Bank In Partner Spot

Richard Inserro joined PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2000 and spent eight years in the on-deck circle as a Director, according to his lengthy LinkedIn profile. Inserro was finally elected to the partnership effective July of 2013. That’s a process that takes more than a year and that some go through more than once before making it. Sources close to the investigation confirmed that NYDFS sent PwC a subpoena before a settlement with PwC’s client Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) was announced on June 20, 2013. PwC promoted Inserro in spite of knowing an investigation by NYDFS into its twelve-month long “historical transaction review”, or HTR consulting engagement at BTMU that began in June 2007 was already underway.

Details of a NYDFS settlement with PwC related to its work at BTMU, announced Monday, describe an unnamed PwC Director who “elevated his apparent concern for client satisfaction over the need for objective inquiry.” A person close to the PwC investigation identified Inserro as the PwC Director referred to by NYDFS. PwC will pay a $25 million fine and endure a two-year ban for improperly altering the BTMU HTR report submitted to NYDFS. That fine is two-and-a-half times as large as the one Deloitte paid NYDFS for similar charges for its work at Standard Chartered Bank a year ago and PwC’s ban is twice as long.

Inserro knew what he was doing. The NYDFS PwC investigation discovered several emails that Benjamin Lawsky, the Superintendent of Financial Services for New York, characterized Monday as examples of a consultant going along with a “whitewash”. In one instance Inserro warned that a PwC memorandum describing how the bank stripped incriminating language from a wire message was “probably correct, but the bank or [its attorneys] may get all twisted up about this affirmative statement.”

PwC knew that Inserro’s emails, and the firm, were already under investigation prior to promoting him in July 2013. NYDFS began the investigation of PwC while it negotiated a settlement with BTMU for $250 million, finalized in June 2013. Deloitte also settled in June for its enabling actions at Standard Chartered.

PwC’s U.S. Advisory Services Leader Miles Everson issued a statement Monday, meant to reassure us, that “PwC is proud of its long history of contributing to the safety and soundness of the financial system…” Monday’s NYDFS press release, however, expressed disappointment that no one at PwC ever disciplined Inserro or provided feedback that his comments might raise significant questions about the firm’s objectivity if anyone else read them.

PwC’s actions betray its true values. PwC promoted Inserro to the partnership, a reward for siding with a miscreant client against its regulator, while he and the firm were under investigation. The regulator allowed PwC to quietly “retire” two partners who were responsible for review and supervision of the BTMU HTR, John C. Campbell and Bruce Roland, as confirmed by a source close to the NYDFS investigation. A PwC spokesperson, Caroline Nolan, had no other comment on the NYDFS settlement other than the Everson statement and would not confirm if Inserro was the Director referred to by the regulator or confirm the names of the retired partners..

Many believe only the four global audit firms­­—PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY —and specialized financial services consulting firms such as Promontory Financial Group are qualified to monitor legal and regulatory compliance in the largest financial services firms. Promontory is still under investigation by NYDFS. PwC is now prohibited from helping New York banks comply with federal and state laws for two years.

Deloitte’s Financial Advisory Services Consulting one-year ban for lack of objectivity and compromised professional independence at Standard Chartered Bank expired in June of 2014.

Superintendent Lawsky must be thrilled to see Deloitte back on the job.

4 replies
  1. TMGoTech
    TMGoTech says:

    Interesting. Also interesting that he’s still listed as a Partner at PWC on his LinkedIn page, even though the press releases say he is no longer with the firm. He’s also still listed on PWC’s website as a “Global Information Reporting Country Lead”.

  2. David F
    David F says:

    I am reading these comments more and more lately. The reports are always how some firm helped another firm break the law. In this case, as with HSBC, the Bank and the consulting firms helped break specific laws. These are not laws of vague impact or outdated regulatory chatter, but rather, they are breaking laws that are currently against US well being. In the report from the NYDFS it is stated that PwC helped the Bank:
    PwC removed other key information from drafts of the HTR Report, including:

    deleting the English translation of BTMU’s wire stripping instructions, which referenced the Bank doing business with “enemy countries” of the U.S;

    However, there is no criminal consequence. In the other parts of the US, if a crime is committed then, someone goes to jail. But, here, since PwC has the money to pay, there are no issues. They will be back in the shady business within 2 years.
    And… we trust them to certify our financial statements? Wow.
    Francine, I believe you are one of the only voices even picking up these stories and trumpeting them. Why is this not somewhere else in mainstream US media?
    Thank you for your willingness to speak the truth.
    Best regards,

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