In Episode 449 of the FCPA Compliance Report, I spoke with Tom Fox to discuss the current status of the KPMG defendants and what their conduct means for the audit profession going forward.
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.
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 writing about GE since 2011.
New academic research says accounting students are less likely to be psychopaths who will commit fraud but surprising admissions by some suggest a reason to be wary.
“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.
I’ve been coaching my colleagues on how to spot updates and interesting anecdotes about revenue recognition during the second quarter earnings season. Now we are catching up on the Qs filed and comparing disclosures after concentrating on what was said in earnings releases and calls.
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.
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.
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.