Warren Buffett writes a letter; what he leaves out is notable

The BRK CEO takes a melancholy tone while living with the ghosts, and trying to get out without ever having to be the bad guy Warren Buffett’s most recent letter to his shareholders has a nostalgic tone and melancholy vibe, perhaps befitting a man of his age and years of business experience.  Buffett admits he […]

SEC takes its finger out of the dike with investigation of Big 4 auditors’ conflicts

Is the regulator ready for the flood of findings, fines, and sanctions that might jeopardize the viability of more than one firm? Dave Michaels of the Wall Street Journal has been on a reporting roll. I mentioned his stories related to the Diller/Geffen insider trading investigation and the recidivist Deutsche Bank here. The Dig JPMorgan’s […]

JPMorgan's risky client approach: Cut them off before they cut us down

JP Morgan has always thrown its weight around but should clients be wary of this new trend? “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” Ian Fleming, Goldfinger Is JPM deliberately throwing clients under the bus? Is Jamie Dimon telling his bankers to point out the bad behavior of others, no matter […]

Big Audit Leaves Russia – Or Does It?

Ties were severed with an ease, and speed, that suggests auditor global networks may be more fragile than advertised. We’ll only know with the judgment of history whether the large global accounting networks’ readiness to separate from their member firms in Russia had any impact whatsoever on the political and economic outcome of Russia’s invasion […]

Piracy, Plunder, and Non-Fungible Tokens

Problems on the OpenSea Bloomberg’s Matt Robinson reported on March 2 that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is scrutinizing creators of NFTs, and the crypto exchanges where they trade, “to determine if some of the assets run afoul of the agency’s rules,” citing the usual “people familiar with the matter”. It’s another shot across […]

Everything old is new again: When accountants bail out loudly

Mazars resigns and disavows ten years of Trump Org financials. Nearly 15 years ago PwC did the same to Russian oil company Yukos. A little more than a year ago, on February 9th, 2021, the U.S. general counsel for global public accounting firm Mazars wrote to Trump Organization EVP and Chief Legal Officer Alan Garten […]

Run but you can't hide: There's no avoiding the impact of crypto on public companies

Investors must consider how cryptoasset price swings, and the “special” qualities of crypto, will affect results and taxes. If you’ve been reading here, and while I was at MarketWatch, you’ll know that I’m a skeptic regarding the legitimate utility and long-term viability of cryptoassets. But this 500-pound black bear is eating everything! We can’t continue […]

CFA/Baruch New York 2022: "What Investors Need to Know About Audits"

In case you missed it! Here’s the replay and transcript of my remarks. Here’s a link to the video, including Q&A. Here’s a transcript of my extended remarks. ***************************************************************************** We are here to talk about the role of the external auditor and why investors should care about their work and work product. It’s important because […]

HP acquired Autonomy and all of the Big 4 auditors were dragged into the mess

More than ten years after a disastrous acquisition with a big dose of fraud, the case can still throw reputational zingers towards Deloitte, KPMG, and EY, and even PwC. The disastrous acquisition in 2011, of Cambridge, UK software firm Autonomy by Hewlett Packard Enterprise is back in the news. On January 28, 2022, in the […]

KPMG's rocky relationship with Banc of California

Banc of California fired KPMG in 2019. Did Banc finally have enough of KPMG’s years of reactive criticisms or did Banc suddenly realize KPMG had been punishing its client for its own mistakes? You may have heard about market ups and downs for Banc of California (BANC) because you saw the bank mentioned by Bloomberg […]

Marcum LLP is doing a lot of China-related work despite a PCAOB bar

The firm’s activities may not violate the letter of the law but they seem to break its spirit. I have been reviewing the activity of audit firm Marcum LLP on an ongoing basis for a number of reasons. While writing earlier this week about the rhetoric of U.S. regulators and lawmakers regarding Chinese companies listed […]

U.S. stock exchanges and the China problem

Despite a lot of sabre-rattling by regulators and lawmakers, investors keep losing money from Chinese frauds and Chinese companies continue to list on U.S. stock exchanges. Despite all the rhetoric from U.S. regulators and lawmakers, hyped-up and potentially fraudulent Chinese companies are still applying to list on US stock exchanges, continuing the chronic exploitation of […]