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Accounting News Roundup: IRS Scratches Another Furlough Day; SEC Wresting for Admission of Wrongdoing; More Expats Giving Up Passports | 08.09.13

IRS postpones August furlough day [WaPo]
The Internal Revenue Service has postponed its Aug. 30 furlough day, marking the agency’s second cancellation of mandatory time off work it had scheduled for this summer. Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel indicated in a memo to employees Wednesday that “substantial progress in trimming costs” has potentially allowed the agency to reduce the amount of unpaid leave necessary to meet its spending-cut targets under the government-wide austerity measure known as the sequester. The agency had initially planned for five furlough days.

Vale may change accounting to curb forex impact on profit [Reuters]
Brazilian miner Vale SA may adopt so called "hedge-accounting" rules to smooth out the impact of currency fluctuations like those that slammed its second-quarter earnings, Chief Executive Murilo Ferreira said on Thursday. Under hedge accounting, companies set aside some dollar-denominated export proceeds to compensate for the impact of exchange-rate moves on the local-currency value of debt, spreading currency gains and losses over several years. The practice is allowed under the International Financial Reporting Standards of the IFRS Foundation, the accounting rule-book used by Vale and other Brazilian companies.

Blount discloses 'material weakness' in accounting [PBJ]
The accounting problems relate to how Blount valued acquisitions in 2010 and 2011. The company said restated earnings may result in a charge against income reported in the fourth quarter of 2012. It's unclear whether earnings reported in other quarters will be restated. The accounting problems are not expected to result in changes to previously reported sales.

Hero or Villain? The Strange Case of HSBC Whistleblower Hervé Falciani [BBW]
On Feb. 1, 2008, a man and a woman boarded a plane in Geneva and flew to Beirut. Over the next week, they visited managers at four Lebanese banks. The man, who identified himself as a Lebanese national named Ruben El Chidiak, told the bankers that he ran a consulting firm and had valuable information to sell. In fact, his name was Hervé Falciani, and he was a systems engineer at the Geneva-based private banking unit of HSBC (HBC). The bank would determine later that he had carried out one of the biggest security breaches in Swiss banking history, obtaining details on the accounts of some 24,000 HSBC private-banking clients. The account data later was passed along to tax authorities in European countries—including France, Spain, and the U.K.—who have used it to collect more than €1 billion ($1.34 billion) in back taxes. Falciani says the data has also provided leads for ongoing investigations of corruption, money laundering, and terrorist financing. The Geneva bank provided an “open door” for such illicit activity, Falciani told a Spanish court earlier this year.

S.E.C. Is Said to Press JPMorgan for an Admission of Wrongdoing [DealBook]
Federal regulators are seeking to level civil charges against JPMorgan Chase and extract a rare admission of wrongdoing from the nation’s biggest bank as an investigation into a multibillion-dollar trading loss enters its final stage. If JPMorgan concedes to some wrongdoing in a settlement, such an admission would set an important precedent for the Securities and Exchange Commission, coming after decades of allowing defendants to “neither admit nor deny wrongdoing.” A pact could come as soon as this fall, according to people briefed on the case, who added that the agency had not threatened to charge JPMorgan executives in the case.

Americans Giving Up Passports Jump Sixfold as Tougher Rules Loom [Bloomberg]
Expatriates giving up their nationality at U.S. embassies climbed to 1,131 in the three months through June from 189 in the year-earlier period, according to Federal Register figures published today. That brought the first-half total to 1,810 compared with 235 for the whole of 2008. The U.S., the only nation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that taxes citizens wherever they reside, is searching for tax cheats in offshore centers, including Switzerland, as the government tries to curb the budget deficit. Shunned by Swiss and German banks and facing tougher asset-disclosure rules under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, more of the estimated 6 million Americans living overseas are weighing the cost of holding a U.S. passport.

Facebook's Summer Party: Better Than Yours [VW]

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