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September 21, 2023

Accounting News Roundup: Lousy Clients and The Non-GAAP Playground | 09.13.16

Life after Big 4

Here's a Bloomberg article about Charles Chao, the CEO of Chinese internet company Sina Corp. Chao is a former PwC manager and his career has gotten pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay interesting in the last few weeks:

The former audit manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is sitting on gains of about $423 million after he made a personal bet worth $456 million on Sina shares last November — paying for more than half the purchase with borrowed money, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Shares of the online media company have jumped since his purchase thanks to a surge in the value of Sina’s stake in Weibo Corp., a Twitter-like service in China, and Chao’s decision last month to distribute Weibo shares to Sina investors.

Less interesting is Chao's nickname: "The Accountant" which "doesn't exactly scream cutting edge."  And other than his Wiebo maneuver, some people don't think so either:

Chao “likes to do some financial engineering,” said Henry Guo, an analyst at New York-based M Science LLC who has covered U.S.-listed Chinese stocks for a decade. Other than Weibo, “there was nothing interesting, nothing attractive in terms of a business,” Guo said. 

I guess anyone known as "The Accountant" who isn't running around with firearms would be considered boring, regardless of what they do.

Lousy clients

Tidal, the music streaming service controlled by Jay-Z, has over 107 overdue bills, including £16,200 to Grant Thornton. [insert bad "auditing ain't easy" joke here]

Has Donald Trump released his tax returns?

Nope! But LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman pledged up to $5 million to veterans affairs groups if DJT lets his returns fly. This came out of a crowdfunding campaign started by a Marine Corps veteran on a platform that Hoffman invested in (of course).

Elsewhere, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said he'd risk jail to publish Trump's tax returns. So anyone who's ever thought journalists should be locked up for what they do, finally has their opening. coughPeter Thiel!cough

Non-GAAP worries

This has to be the strangest lede I've ever read on non-GAAP accounting:

Like a child on a playground who wants everyone to watch a new maneuver, companies clamor for public attention by presenting their numbers in a way that makes them look as successful as possible.

I'd wager that the ratio of parents worrying about that child breaking his/her neck to people worried about non-GAAP accounting is 1:1.

Accountants behaving badly

Donald Isley, a Denver-area accountant, has been indicted on charges related to stealing $3.5 million from his clients. He allegedly spent the money on "personal expenses like his mortgage and his wife’s credit card bill" which is about as domestic as it gets. Also, if you're going by his LinkedIn profile pic, he also sprung for a photographer who specializes in senior pictures to take his headshots.

In any case, Isley faces loads of charges:

In the criminal case, Iley has been charged with 12 counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud, charges that each carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. He also faces 18 counts of false tax returns, each of which could net him a prison term of up to three years. All of the charges carry a fine of up to $250,000 or twice what he has gained or twice what alleged victims have lost.

Yikes. Take a plea, man.

Previously, on Going Concern…

I wrote about the accounting profession's PACs. And in Open Items, someone wants to know about busy season for an auditor in the Big 4.

In other news:

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