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Accounting News Roundup: SEC Gets Green Light for Deloitte Workpapers; Private Activity Bond Backlash; Tax Prep Kings in Court | 03.05.13

U.S. can pursue China documents from Deloitte – federal judge [Reuters]
The U.S. securities regulator can pursue efforts to obtain certain audit work papers from Deloitte's China unit, a federal judge said on Monday, giving some latitude for the U.S. government to investigate potential misconduct at Chinese companies listed in the United States. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission can move forward with its attempt to force Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd to comply with a subpoena related to a fraud investigation into a Chinese technology company Longtop Financial Technologies Ltd , Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson said.

A Stealth Tax Subsidy for Business Faces New Scrutiny [NYT]
The last time the nation’s tax code was overhauled, in 1986, Congress tried to end a big corporate giveaway. But this valuable perk — the ability to finance a variety of business projects cheaply with bonds that are exempt from federal taxes — has not only endured, it has grown, in what amounts to a stealth subsidy for private enterprise. A winery in North Carolina, a golf resort in Puerto Rico and a Corvette museum in Kentucky, as well as the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the offices of the Goldman Sachs Group and the Bank of America Tower in New York — all of these projects, and many more, have been built using the tax-exempt bonds that are more conventionally used by cities and states to pay for roads, bridges and schools. In all, more than $65 billion of these bonds have been issued by state and local governments on behalf of corporations since 2003, according to an analysis of Bloomberg bond data by The New York Times. During that period, the single biggest beneficiary of such securities was the Chevron Corporation, which issued bonds with a total face value of $2.6 billion, the analysis showed. Last year it reported a profit of $26 billion.
Deloitte/MG Rover tribunal begins [Accountancy Age]

The tribunal between the disciplinary arm of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the firm and a senior partner begins today.The AADB's main concern is over the relationship of Deloitte with the "Phoenix Four", a quartet of businessmen who led the purchase of MG Rover from BMW in 2000. Deloitte and corporate finance partner Einollahi gave corporate finance advice to the Phoenix Four and MG Rover, as well as working with the car maker as its auditor. The AADB alleges they failed to adequately consider the public interest and to mitigate risks of conflicts.

Arguments begin in H&R Block suit against Turbo Tax ‘attack ad’ [KCBJ]
Court arguments began Monday in H&R Block Inc.’s attempt to have its main competitor’s TV commercials taken off the air. U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan heard testimony from a consumer behavior expert who conducted a survey for Block (NYSE: HRB) of viewers’ reactions to ads aired by Intuit Inc., the maker of Turbo Tax software. Carol Scott, a retired UCLA business professor, said the commercials contained an ineffective disclaimer that confused viewers about the relative popularity of the two companies’ products and services.

House Holds Hearing Today on The Tax-Related Provisions in the President’s Health Care Law [TaxProf]
If you're looking for some excitement.
Las Vegas Sands Fires Back at Bribery Charges [CNBC]

The casino operator is particularly upset with a New York Times headline that said "Casino Says It Likely Cheated," calling it uninformed and misleading reporting. Media outlets reported that the casino company said in a 10-K disclosure filing Friday said it "likely" violated the FCPA, which outlaws the bribery of foreign officials, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday. The reports stated that Las Vegas Sands, which is controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, said that after it received the SEC subpoena on Feb. 9, 2011, the audit committee of the board of directors opened an investigation. But on Monday the company countered that its 10-K disclosure did not report any violations of the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. In a statement, Las Vegas Sands said its audit committee had only found "likely violations" of the books, records, and internal controls provisions of the FCPA. A potential violation could range anywhere from a single transaction recorded incorrectly to other errors in the accounting records.

Andrew Mason – Groupon Farewell Memo [RapGenius]
The annotated version.

Fake bishop sneaks into Vatican meeting with 100 real cardinals [NYDN, Earlier]
A man dressed as a bishop sneaked into the meeting of more than 100 cardinals at the Vatican Monday, managing to commiserate with the Catholic princes before being thrown out by Swiss Guards. Prankster Ralph Napierski donned a short cassock, “an unusual” cross necklace, and a purple sash that was actually a scarf, according to Italy’s Gazzetta del Sud. Instead of a skullcap he wore a black fedora. He told reporters his name was “Basilius,” and a member of the "Corpus Dei,” a German church described online as a “Catholic Order after episcopal law.”

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