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Accounting News Roundup: Obama to Propose Tax Break to Encourage Investment; PwC Entanglement in Yukos Continues; The Big 4 and Subprime Auditing | 09.07.10

Obama to Push Tax Break [WSJ]
“President Barack Obama, in one of his most dramatic gestures to business, will propose that companies be allowed to more quickly write off 100% of their new investment in plants and equipment through 2011.

The proposal, to be laid out Wednesday in a speech in Cleveland, tops a raft of announcements, from a proposed expansion of the research and experimentation tax credit to $50 billion in additional spending on roads, railways and runways.

Companies can now deduct new investment expenses, but over a longer period of time—three to 20 years. The proposed change, which would let companies keep more cash now, is meant to give companies who may be hesitant to invest an incentive to expand, acting as a spur to the overall economy.”

Oil Tycoon Says PWC Caved to Pressure [WSJ]
“Defense lawyers for jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky are turning their legal guns on one of their client’s former allies: auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The attorneys for Mr. Khodorkovsky—once the main shareholder and chief executive of petroleum producer OAO Yukos and now on trial for allegedly embezzling tens of billions of dollars from the company—say PWC acted improperly when it withdrew its seal of approval from ten years of Yukos’s financial statements.

Mr. Khodorkovsky’s legal team contends that PWC, which served as Yukos’s auditor and adviser for years, withdrew its audit opinions in order to protect its own business interests in Russia and to shield its partners from possible jail time—not because of any real questions about the reliability of Yukos’s books.”

The Five Best and Worst Things About Telecommuting: The Finance Edition [FINS]
Being able to slob around in your sweats all day isn’t really conducive to a positive day.

PwC boss Ian Powell’s salary up to £3.6m despite partner profits slump [Accountancy Age]
“PwC partners voted to increase Ian Powell’s wages have increased to £3.6m despite partners’ average profits falling to £759,000.

Powell earned £3.3m last year.

Asked whether he believed he had earned his wages, Powell stressed that it was the senior PwC executives who set his remuneration.

‘It’s the partners that decide what I earn and I’m exteremely grateful to them for that.’ ”

Barclays Names Diamond CEO, Pledges to Retain Universal Model [Bloomberg]
“Robert Diamond, the architect of Barclays Plc’s investment banking expansion, was appointed chief executive officer and pledged to boost the bank’s consumer unit.

Diamond, 59, will become deputy CEO next month before John Varley, 54, steps down at the end of March, the lender said in a statement today. He will move to London from New York and receive as much as 11.48 million pounds ($18 million) in salary and bonuses as CEO.

Chairman Marcus Agius today defended the bank’s universal model, where it acts as both a consumer and an investment bank, as a U.K. government commission considers forcing lenders to separate the businesses. Barclays, the U.K.’s third-biggest bank, is trying to cut the proportion of pretax profit generated by its investment bank to a third, down from two-thirds in the first half of this year.”

PwC opens Mongolian office [Accountancy Age]
“PwC has set up shop in Mongolia where it hopes to take advantage of a burgeoning natural resources market, the Big Four auditor said in a statement today.

The new audit office, in the capital Ulaanbaatar, will provide assurance, advisory and tax services to companies operating in the country which is credited as the first nation to use paper money.”

Guest Post: Subprime Auditing – The Fox In The Chicken Coop [Re: The Auditors]
“We all remember the story of The Three Little Pigs. This story is about the 4 Big Pigs, more commonly referred to as the Big 4. These are the four gigantic international accounting firms that have a virtual monopoly of the auditing industry – PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young. They rule the roost and conduct themselves in a manner that ignores their responsibility to the citizens of our great country.”

Posted in ANR