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Accounting News Roundup: Big 4 on a Lobbying Bonanza; Super Scrutiny for Super PACs; Ernst & Young Fined for Its Auditing…Again | 03.13.12

Big 4 auditors spend more than ever on U.S. lobbying [Reuters]
Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers last year spent a combined $9.4 million on in-house and outside lobbyists, according to a Reuters analysis of congressional disclosure reports. That is more than in any other year since 2002, the year of the downfall of former Enron Corp auditor Arthur Andersen, when the industry's dominant players fell to four from five. Even going back to 1999, the earliest year for which online reports are available, annual spending by the industry, including Arthur Andersen, was lower than last year's. The Big Four's lobbying ranks have swelled, too. For instance, Deloitte since 1999 has more than doubled its stable of registered lobbyists to 25, including eight in-house staffers, according to the disclosure reports.

Senate Democrats ask IRS for greater scrutiny of Super PACs [2chambers/WaPo]

Senate Democrats are asking the Internal Revenue Service to restrict the amount of money a tax-exempt organization can spend on political activities, warning that they will introduce legislation doing so if the tax enforcement agency fails to act soon. At issue are groups that claim 501(c)4 tax-exempt status by saying they engage exclusively in “social welfare” activities but spend a considerable amount of time and money on political advertising and advocacy. Such groups, including Crossroads GPS and Priorities USA are bankrolling multimillion dollar advertising campaigns designed to provide additional firepower for Republican and Democratic candidates.
 
Will Auditors Influence How Executives Are Paid? [CFO]
PCAOB proposals would have auditors reading the employment and compensation contracts of corporate leaders and, possibly, forcing changes to comp programs due to unacceptable risks of material restatement.
 
E&Y fined and reprimanded over audit work [Accountancy Age, Earlier]
A severe reprimand has been issued against Ernst & Young, along with fine and costs of £50,000, by the ICAEW investigation committee over its audit work. The firm issued unqualified audit reports over the course of several years for a company of which it had failed to obtain appropriate evidence of transactions the business had entered into, including details of millions of pounds in trade debtors and work in progress in the client's accounts. E&Y agreed to a £40,000 fine and £10,055 in costs.
 
I manufactured cheeseburgers on the grill yesterday [Tax Update]
Joe Kristan agrees with something David Cay Johnston wrote. Seriously.
 
Accountant in court for stealing beer worth N2.5m [Vanguard]
Lagos an accountant with a private firm in Lagos was on Monday charged before an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court with the alleged theft of cartons of beer, valued at N2.5 million [~$15,800]. The accountant  is standing trial on a two-count charge of felony and stealing. The accused, however, pleaded innocence of the offences. But the prosecutor, Sgt. Innocent Odungbe, said the accused had sometime between April 2011 and January 2012 sold hundreds of cartons of beer and converted the money to his personal use.

 

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