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Accounting News Roundup: Tragedy at Deloitte; Groupon Getting Dumped?; Paul Ryan Goes for Two | 08.20.12

Deloitte says accountant's suicide unrelated to StanChart [Reuters]
Deloitte LLP said Sunday that the suicide of a New York accountant was unrelated to work for British bank Standard Chartered Plc. Daniel Pirron, 57, was found dead of a gunshot to the head on Aug. 13 after a passerby noticed the body in a Fairfield, Connecticut parking lot, a Fairfield Police spokeswoman said Sunday. A .38-caliber handgun, found near his body, was registered to Pirron. Pirron worked as an accountant in the general counsel's office of Deloitte in New York City. In the wake of the death, The Telegraph newspaper in London suggested there was a link between Pirron's death and Deloitte's work for Standard Chartered, which drew the scrutiny of New York's banking regulator.

Old dilemmas revisit KPMG chairman [FT]
Earlier this month, [Simon] Collins started work as KPMG’s UK chairman and senior partner, succeeding John Griffith-Jones, chosen as the first non-executive chairman of the UK’s new investor protection and markets regulator. Mr Collins’ background is unusual among the men who lead the UK arms of the Big Four accounting firms: PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young. He says the move away from investment banking reflected his dissatisfaction with the dual role that banks played in dispensing advice to companies while also getting paid to provide or arrange funding. KPMG could be a more independent counsellor, he reasoned: “I was very keen to get back to the values of the [accounting] profession but wanted to bring capital market insight.”

Groupon Investors Give Up [WSJ]
Some of the early backers of Groupon Inc. including Silicon Valley veteran Marc Andreessen, are heading for the exits, joining investors who have lost faith in companies that had been expected to drive a new Internet boom. At least four Groupon investors who held stock in the daily-deals company before it went public have sold or significantly pared back their holdings in recent months. Since its initial public offering in November, Groupon has shed more than three-quarters of its stock-market value, or about $10 billion. Groupon's plunging stock price, and the swooning shares of Facebook Inc. and Zynga Inc. have rekindled memories of the dot-com bust in 2000. Unlike many dot-com era start-ups, the current companies have healthy revenue and in some cases are turning a profit—but their results aren't matching early expectations.

Groupon: Still Accounting Challenged [GOA]
Groupon has suffered through several financial restatements, revisions of its revenues, SEC criticism of its non-GAAP performance metrics, internal control weaknesses over financial reporting, and public critiques of its reported operating cash flows.  One would have thought that Groupon might have learned its lesson about the importance of accounting quality and financial reporting transparency.  But no!  The Company’s latest 10-Q suggests that financial reporting quality remains less than stellar and that management has not learned its lessons.

Paul Ryan releases two years of tax returns [Reuters]
You'll get no more.

Should We Care About Romney's Unreleased Tax Returns? [Forbes]
The business culture that both Romney and Warren Buffett have  operated in, as have I at a much less ethereal level, considers overpaying taxes to be irresponsible.  That is the story of Romney’s tax returns.  There is a perpetual arms race between people who come up with clever ideas and the taxing authorities.  In the nineties and around the turn of the millennium, some of the clever idea people in very prestigious firms got a little carried away and figured out a way to essentially create basis out of thin air, which would mean that nobody with substantial capital gains would ever have to pay tax on them again.  Instead they would pay the firm 3% or something like that.  It took a while, but that was shut down.  If Romney took advantage of that, as Marriott tried to unsuccessfully, it tells us nothing about him that we don’t already know. 

Woman accused of Walmart greeter punch faces trial [AP]
Jacquetta Simmons was charged with two counts of felony assault but one of those was reduced last week to a misdemeanor. Nevertheless, the 26-year-old faces up to seven years in prison after being charged under New York state's "Granny Law." The law makes it a felony to injure someone 65 or older if the defendant is at least 10 years younger than the victim. Simmons is accused of knocking Grace Suozzi off her feet with a blow to the face while Suozzi was checking her receipt. Simmons' lawyer says Suozzi grabbed her bag.

Posted in ANR