A judge denied PwC’s motion for summary judgement. The case goes to trial in October. Mauro Botta brought an action in district court in California against PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP alleging that PwC wrongfully terminated him in retaliation for a whistleblower complaint he made to the Securities and Exchange Commission about PwC’s auditing practices. There’s been a lot written about the case, which is ongoing.
The timeline of who told whom what and when, this time around for KPMG, is a bit more complicated than David Middendorf described in his testimony in the criminal case against him for allegedly conspiring to steal PCAOB inspection data.
Would investors still pay for an audit if it weren’t legally mandated? Are regulators and exchanges perpetuating a government-mandated oligopolistic exclusive franchise for the Big 4 and a few additional firms that produces information investors now ignore?
A wrap-up of my writing in 2018 on three topics I’d been following that reached a climax last year — Theranos, FDIC v. PwC and KPMG/PCAOB inspection data theft— and three more where my reporting resulted in a legal or regulatory impact on the companies—ADT, Symantec, and IGC.
Looks like the Theranos investors decided that audits are worthless, even if the cost is some “immaterial to them” fraud losses.
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.
Why did they do it? The WSJ walks around the question but KPMG may face big fines and, I think, its partners and the PCAOB professional could face criminal charges.
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 are my remarks from the panel discussion on non-GAAP metrics I participated in onNovember 7, 2016 at NYU Stern.
Here’s a brief look at the TBW Plan Trustee v. PwC trial, what led to it and what’s next.