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.
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.
As if Ernst & Young didn’t have enough to worry about now they’ve got a public airing of some dirty laundry by the PCAOB.
Thank goodness for the plaintiffs’ bar and class action lawsuits. And state attorneys general. Without them, there’d be very little justice yet – or compensation – for any of the mortgage-related fraud perpetrated during the real estate bubble.
Ever wondered what it would be like to see your name in print? Most auditors do not aspire to seeing their name in the papers. It’s a career-limiting move to be cited in a bankruptcy examiner’s report or a disciplinary order issued by the PCAOB.
I’d be exaggerating if I told you the Lehman bankruptcy examiner’s report, and its scathing indictment of Ernst & Young’s role in the biggest failure on Wall Street, answered my prayers. On the contrary. The more successful a fraud case is against Lehman’s executives, the less likely EY or any of its partners will suffer any consequences for their role in the Lehman fraud.
It was a great first day yesterday. I’ve been telling Matt Kelly, Editor of Compliance Week, that this year is better than ever. One profound change is the Twitter presence this year. Last year I was the only one Twittering, Matt did not yet have blogs on the Compliance Week site, and fewer people knew or cared what I was doing or why. This year, I share the front row at every presentation (and the backchannel) with several bloggers/Twitterers.
Not so long ago, Dennis Howlett and I went public with a bet:
Which Big 4 audit firm is the next to fail?
Dennis believes that I’m betting on PwC as next to fail. I don’t honestly remember committing to that, but I’m willing to go with it for the sake of argument. This is in spite of the fact that the other Big 4 have plenty to worry about and the next tier firms are in no way ready for prime time.
The “victims” of the Bernie Madoff scandal are not taking their losses laying down. Why are so many suits suddenly being brought against the auditors of the funds that invested on behalf of their clients in the Madoff funds?
Every once and a while someone asks me, “fm, how do you keep up with all the news, the stories? How do you know all this stuff?” Well…Although I have been accused of conceit, presumption, being “too smart,” being too quick to draw conclusions, painting a whole firm black on very little basis, precociousness, general […]
Prentice: It’s a fascinating theory, sir, and cleverly put together. Does it tie in with known facts?Rance: That need not cause us undue anxiety. Civilizations have been founded and maintained on theories which refused to obey fact.“What The Butler Saw”Joe Orton, 1969 Kerviel’s lawyers question Société Générale accountants PARIS: Jérôme Kerviel, blamed by Société Générale […]