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.
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.
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.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and Dodd-Frank’s clawback provision both require a restatement. The restatement of financial results to correct material errors – whether those errors occurred by default or by design – is a necessary condition for enforcing both the Sarbanes-Oxley Section 304 provision and the new Dodd-Frank law.
I’m writing now for American Banker. My first column covers a new appointment at Deloitte and how this might affect the firm’s clients in the mutual funds industry.
Making the non-obvious connections between the audit firms and their clients, between the clients and each other, and between the firms and each other is getting to be like shooting fish in a barrel.
Have you been following the trials and tribulations of Bank of America and their auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP?
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.
What’s the difference between Lehman/Hudson Castle – the structured investment vehicle (SIV) mentioned in the New York Times last week – and the SEC fraud charges against Goldman? Aren’t both about disclosure?
I was quoted on May 2 in an article in American Banker by Alex Ulam entitled, “Why Second-Lien Loans Remain A Worry”. My quote focused on disclosures and transparency – for the loans and the reserves for losses. It’s a subject I’ve written about extensively.
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.
In passing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”), Congress tried — but failed — to make the market fair and more transparent for individual investors. Until the SEC, through its enforcement actions, holds high-ranking corporate executives accountable for their firms’ wrongdoing and ensures that settlement fines do not unjustly harm shareholders, measures to protect investors from Wall Street malfeasance will continue to fall short of the mark. Renowned securities litigator Jake Zamansky spoke recently on these issues to the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) Public Policy Conference.