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.
Once I returned from my Stigler Center fellowship I got to work catching up on the new standard, talking to experts everywhere and working with Audit Analytics to come up with the data to support stories–by my and my colleagues–about companies and their response to the new standard. My goal was to pick some of the obscure topics that were unique or focused on a specific industry.
Here are my remarks from the panel discussion on non-GAAP metrics I participated in onNovember 7, 2016 at NYU Stern.
Anthony Canalungo wrote a really interesting article about Herbalife’s financials in Venezuela. Three different MLM companies from the peer group in addition to Herbalife operating in Venezuela and all except for Herbalife are using SICAD 2. What else do these four firms have in common? Auditor PwC.
Ryan Adams testified on behalf of PwC in an important court case. How can PwC be independent of Adam’s employer Marin Software, and Adams, the Financial Reporting Director at this newly public PwC-audited client company, if he’s testifying on PwC’s behalf in litigation that could impact PwC’s business model in California and, perhaps, nationally?
I have two articles in the University of Chicago Booth Capital Ideas Magazine Summer 2014 issue. One is about bank monitoring of private company financials and the other is about bank stress test disclosure. Their cover story, “Think you’re not a racist?” is also worth a close read.
“If accounting errors were felonies in California, Fannie Mae would already be serving life under Three Strikes.” That’s what GoingConcern.com said. See what I told TheStreet.com about Fannie Mae’s latest multi-billion dollar “adjustments”.
Should audit and auditor failure be solely defined by identified material misstatements that result in restatements, and internal control failures? I don’t think so but Jay Hanson, PCAOB Board member, said so recently.
PwC is scheduled to go to trial for malpractice related to the bankruptcy of SemGroup in August, almost six years later. The SemGroup Litigation Trust, pursuing claims on behalf of the company and its creditors, alleges PwC did a terrible audit. But it’s worse than just lousy auditing, especially if a trial exposes the truth of PwC’s disingenuous defenses.