Can We Trust Bidz.com’s Financial Reporting? [White Collar Fraud]
We won’t tell you what to think but you should know that Bidz reported “material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting” specifically those controls over “management oversight and anti-fraud controls specifically in processing of financial transactions, vendor review and payment processing,” in its most recent 10-K and 10-Q As an investor in Bidz, this should make you queasy. Unless, of course, you’re not concerned with such matters.
Sam Antar probably doesn’t care either way but he does put something out there, “Bidz.com cannot effectively prevent anyone from robbing the company blind and cannot prevent material errors in paying its vendors. Yet, the company wants you to believe that its financial reports contain no material errors and comply with GAAP.” But if you’re not sketched out by such things, then by all means, invest away.
But wait, in case that doesn’t earn your skepticism, the SEC began its investigation last year after Sam pointed out inventory irregularities at the company. Shortly thereafter, the Commission expanded its investigation into “the Company’s co-op marketing contributions and minimum gross profit guarantees.” If that wasn’t enough, the company’s auditors, Stonefield Josephson, were cited by the PCAOB for “significant deficiencies in a smaller sample of one of four audits reviewed.” So, again, if you can get over all that, this is probably a fine company to have your money invested in.
Bobbing as the Taxman Weaves [DealBook]
As Congress continues to dispel its wisdom on financial reform, it’s has become the natural order of things for any regulation to be circumvented prior to the passage of any bill.
In the case of carried interest, an incentive paid to hedge and private equity fund managers out of gains on the funds’ investments, Congress would like to tax these incentives at the ordinary rate (soon to be 39.6%). Currently, carried interest is taxed at the capital gains rate of 15%. DealBook reports that, despite threats by House to penalize those who use creative tax strategies that later fail, the maneuvering has not slowed:
The House of Representatives, aware that some titans of finance were already charting a course around any proposed change to their tax status, included a special provision in its version of the new legislation levying a 40 percent penalty for executives who invoked a loophole to cut their tax bill but were later ruled to have been wrong in doing so.
Still, that hasn’t stopped them from trying.
One of the latest machinations being whispered about in the industry goes like this: Private equity executives would sell their “carried interest” to a third party and then use the cash they received to invest directly in the deal so that any increase in value would be a capital gain.
It’s not clear whether this will work or not but it sure seems like fun.
Accountant held without bail in NYC in terror case [AP]
Sabirhan Hasanoff, a former PwC Senior Manager, was denied bail yesterday for his role in an alleged conspiracy that supported al-Qaida. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.