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Accounting News Roundup: Hedge Funds’ Tax Strategy; Corporate Boards’ Failure to Communicate; Lerner Emails Back From the Dead? | 07.22.14

Senate Inquiry Faults Hedge Funds’ Tax Strategy [DealBook]
Oh, sure, now they're picking on hedge funds! "Between 1998 and 2013, more than a dozen hedge funds conducted hundreds of billions of dollars in trades using hundreds of structures, known as “basket options,” created by Barclays and Deutsche Bank, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a report on Monday. Over a period of more than a decade, Renaissance [Technologies] avoided more than $6 billion in taxes alone, the subcommittee estimated in the 93-page report."

Herbalife Plunges as Ackman Vows to Unveil Enron-Like Fraud [Bloomberg]
Bill Ackman can't wait to show you the evidence: " 'Trust me, when you see the stuff we have,' Ackman said in an interview on 'Market Makers' with Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker, 'you will conclude the money was well spent.' He suggested that the nutrition clubs — part of Herbalife’s direct-selling approach — resemble the fake trading rooms set up by Enron before accounting fraud led to that company’s bankruptcy in 2001."

Investors to Directors, ‘Can We Talk?’ [DealBook]
Historically, the answer has been "no": "Within the clubby world of directors, communicating with shareholders, big or small, is overtly frowned upon: “We endorse the principle that direct engagement involving directors should not be a routine method of engagement for most U.S. companies and for most investors,” according to the Conference Board Governance Center Task Force on Corporate/Investor Engagement. That’s why it was so unusual for the chairmen of at least 1,000 large United States public companies to receive a letter this month from a group of shareholders representing more than $10 trillion in assets with a demand: Talk to us. The letter, signed by representatives of some of the biggest investment groups, including BlackRock, Vanguard and Calstrs, insisted that boards open up."

Best 401(k) Plans [Bloomberg]
For 250 of the largest companies in the S&P 500.

Washington health exchange sounds the alarm, questions Deloitte [ST]
At least one state isn't happy with Deloitte's building of their healthcare exchange. 

IRS: Lerner emails may exist after all [The Hill]
Or they may not! "In testimony released Monday, Thomas Kane, the IRS’s deputy associate chief counsel, told House Oversight investigators last week that the agency was examining whether all the back-up tapes which held the emails have been recycled. […] Kane, the top IRS official in charge of producing documents for Congress, said on Thursday that: 'I don’t know if there is a backup tape with information on it or there isn’t. I know that there’s an issue out there about it.' 'It’s an issue that’s being looked at,' Kane also said."

$10,000 "World's Longest Dinosaur Poop" Is Probably Just a Rock [Gawker]
Save your money.

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