“Innovation demands risk-taking… which, in turn, entails redefining failure, stripping away its power to inhibit.” Chairman and CEO of KPMG Lynne Doughtie
On February 28 the US Justice Department fined Deloitte & Touche LLP $149.5 million for alleged fraud against the government related to its role as the independent outside auditor of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. Also: The damages phase of the FDIC v. PwC case regarding Colonial Bank is set to begin in Washington DC on March 20.
The last time anyone attempted to “modernize” auditor independence rules it was the Securities and Exchange Commission, in 2000, before the Enron failure and Arthur Andersen’s demise, as a result of the growing concern that firms increasing focus on consulting was distracting them for their core purpose, auditing. The Big Four firms are now opportunistically lobbying to go back in time, before Enron, when the industry was self-regulated and mostly left alone, able to have as many conflicts of interest as their powerful public clients would allow.
The KPMG/PCAOB scandal is neither the first or last time a Big 4 firm reminded us that there’s nothing special anymore about being a Big 4 firm professional The firms, and their partners, are not capitalist eunuchs, immune from perverse incentives that advocates for free markets say, if big enough, can corrupt anyone.
My MarketWatch colleague Andrea Riquier took a field trip to Indiana earlier this year on a tip about a group that helps people struggling to get their act together and prepare for home ownership. It’s a nice thing to see, given all the ongoing struggles many still have with jobs, finances and the challenges of this economy, especially in the heartland.
Mary Jo White became the 31st Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 10, 2013. Last week she announced she would be leaving the job when President Obama leaves office. Here are some links to recent articles and a few choice ones from the past.
Here’s a brief look at the TBW Plan Trustee v. PwC trial, what led to it and what’s next.
One area I am covering now at MarketWatch is market structure, specifically the equity markets. Reforming equity markets is a big ongoing issue, especially after the May 2010 flash crash. Here’s a summary of the articles, updated for a new one on February 3, I’ve written since May on the subject and some background on some of the many controversies.
Bank regulators should start hiring the consultants that are responding to bank regulatory sanctions, consent decrees and NPA/DPA legal orders directly, and also strictly monitor them. It’s time to change for regulators to change their approach before another waste of time, money and public trust occurs.
On July 21 Dodd-Frank will be five years old. If I hadn’t been through the same thing with Sarbanes-Oxley now twice, I’d be more excited. But the partisan rancor on this law, especially at the SEC, is even worse.
My piece on the SEC’s new Equity Market Structure Advisory Committee, spanning several online pages, is now out at MarketWatch.
Wouldn’t it be nice if investors and other interested parties could look up new Deloitte US CEO Cathy Engelbert in a public and easily accessible registry and find out about all the audit clients where she has been a lead partner or a Quality Control partner? Has she ever been named in a lawsuit or been sanctioned? Let’s hope not.