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Accounting News Roundup: UK Clears E&Y Over Lehman; H&R Block vs. TurboTax; Hello, Office 2013 | 01.29.13

UK watchdog closes Lehman case against auditor E&Y [Reuters]
Britain's accounting watchdog said it won't take any action against Ernst & Young (E&Y) over the way it checked the books of Lehman Brothers, the U.S. bank whose failure triggered a near meltdown in global markets in 2008. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) probe focused on how E&Y, one of the world's "Big Four" accounting firms, audited the London-based European arm of Lehman. "Following the conclusion of the investigation, the FRC's executive counsel, Gareth Rees, has decided that no action should be taken against E&Y or any individuals in connection with their conduct in this matter," the FRC said in a statement.

Accounting Boards Work to Cut Disclosure Overload [AT]

Most preparers of financial statements identified the primary problem as disclosure requirements being too extensive with not enough being done to exclude immaterial information—which has been referred to as disclosure overload. Many users of financial statements felt that preparers could do more to improve the communication of relevant information within the financial statements, rather than leaving users to sift through large amounts of data. The survey uncovered a wide range of views on the underlying causes of the problem. Some respondents felt that more could be done to improve the way in which accounting standards are set out. Others expressed concern that preparers, auditors and regulators are approaching financial reporting as an exercise in compliance rather than as a means of communication. “We very much appreciate the detailed and high quality feedback provided by respondents to this survey,” said IASB chairman Hans Hoogervorst in a statement. “That feedback indicated a need for standard-setters, auditors, preparers, regulators and investors to work together in order to deliver much-needed improvements to all disclosures, not just those contained within the financial statements.”
China a unique challenge, PwC warns [SMH]
That's one way to put it.
There's A Feud Brewing Between H&R Block And TurboTax [BI]

H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb is not happy about what TurboTax is doing with its early ads. He sent an email to his employees that rips his rival, calling its commercials "outrageous." The internal email, which was acquired by Michael Sebastian at PR Daily, accuses TurboTax of using "misleading data and statements." Cobb also noted that legal action is being considered and that "appropriate action will be taken quickly."
U.S. Wants Criminal Charges for RBS [WSJ]
U.S. authorities are pushing for a settlement of interest-rate-rigging allegations with Royal Bank of Scotland Group RBS.LN -6.14% PLC that would result in a unit of the big British bank pleading guilty to criminal charges in addition to paying a penalty, according to people briefed on the negotiations. RBS executives are resisting any guilty plea, fearful that it could lead clients to cut off activity with the bank and that it could increase exposure to costly litigation, some of these people said. The negotiations reflect a newly tough stance by U.S. authorities, who until recently have faced criticism for rarely pursuing criminal action against big banks. The settlement is likely to include roughly £500 million ($790 million) in penalties levied by U.S. and British authorities, although the exact amount remains in flux, these people said. The deal, under negotiation since last fall, could be completed within the next two weeks.
Office 2013 looks set to launch in New York City Jan. 29 [TechRadar]
Will the New BlackBerry Win Back Corporate Customers? [WSJ]
The smart money says no.
Stop the Honking? New York Suggests It’s a Lost Cause [NYT]

In a move condemned by critics as a tacit surrender to a ubiquitous noise, the Transportation Department is removing all “Don’t Honk” signs from the streets, and predicts there will be none left by the end of the year. City officials said the move was part of an effort to declutter the streets of often ignored signs. Nonetheless, the decision has ignited a voluble opposition among noise-conscious New Yorkers, particularly in high-traffic residential areas like the Upper East and Upper West Sides. “I can’t tell you how many requests I get for ‘no honking’ signs,” said Gale A. Brewer, a councilwoman in Manhattan who wrote a letter to the city’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, arguing against the change. “The notion of taking down information when information is so hard to get in New York City is pretty bad.” An ill-advised honk remains illegal, carrying a fine of $350. Few are actually fined; last year, the Police Department issued 206 summonses for “unnecessary use of horn.”


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