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Accounting News Roundup: KPMG Changing the World; Apple’s Tax Avoidance; Tesco Talking | 10.07.15

Ed. note: I'm taking some time off, capital market servants. In my absence, you'll get content from Greg, Leona and Chris Hooper. You can also post questions and stories for discussion in Open Items. Try to behave yourselves and I'll be back next week.

How an Accounting Firm Convinced Its Employees They Could Change the World [HBR]
KPMG Executive Bruce Pfau wrote this essay about the firm's "Higher Purpose Initiative" which, he says, "aimed [to] inspiring our already high-morale workforce reach new levels of engagement." If you don't remember, they kicked off the initiative with the "We Shape History" video:

The video highlighted dramatic, largely forgotten stories about KPMG’s role in historic events: how we managed the Lend-Lease Act to help defeat Nazi Germany; resolved conflicting financial claims to lay the groundwork for the release of the U.S. hostages in Iran in 1981; and certified the election of Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1994.

Along with the dramatic stories, there is also dramatic music and a dramatic narrator, so if you're not feeling good about your recent salary discussion, the video could be used as a pep talk.

Apple is still No. 1 at avoiding US taxes [Quartz]
Apple holds $181 billion in assets offshore, according to the Center for Tax Justice's analysis of SEC filings. That's $62 billion more than 2nd place, General Electric. Here's some other fun facts: 

At least 72% percent of the Fortune 500 operate subsidiaries in tax-haven jurisdictions—one in four of which are in the Cayman Islands—costing the government between $26 billion and $90 billion a year. The 57 Fortune 500 companies that disclose estimates of what their tax liability would be if they did not book their profits offshore would owe $184.4 billion in outstanding federal taxes.

Walking the tightrope of tax avoidance/evasion should always, always, always be left to the professionals. That means job security for some of you!

SEC Charges Former Executives With Accounting Fraud and Other Accounting Failures [SEC]
Executives at OCZ Technology Group inflated revenue, inflated margins and didn't disclose a lot of other bad stuff. Interestingly, after OCZ declared bankruptcy in 2013, Toshiba acquired the company, although Toshiba's own wretched accounting doesn't seem to be related to OCZ.

Tesco in 'secret talks' with fraud office over accounting black hole [Telegraph]
The company is talking with the Serious Fraud Office about the possibility of a deferred prosecution agreement which would allow them to avoid criminal charges.

Jury deadlocked in trial of former Dewey & LeBoeuf executives [MW]
After 14 days of deliberations, the jury seems a little worn out: “We the jury can’t come to a unanimous decision on the majority of the counts on the verdict sheet.” I feel like your average jury would be exasperated after 14 days of discussing any case. Now imagine 14 days of discussing a case with accounting manipulation being a primary topic with a lot of people who know very little about accounting. It's a wonder how they've gone on this long.

In other news:

  • VW's recall will start in January. [BBC]
  • BDO named some new board members. [BDO]
  • There may be a tax blogger beef brewing. [Forbes via Tax Update]
  • Tony Nitti explains the Section 338(h)(10) election. [Forbes]
  • Make your own Donald Trump hat. [WP]