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Friday Footnotes: EY Takes the L; MNP Hacked; Deloitte’s Super Bot | 4.17.20

EY Must Pay $10.8 Million to Auditor Who Blew Whistle on Refiner [Bloomberg] Ernst & Young must pay $10.8 million to an auditor who blew the whistle on wrongdoing at a Dubai gold refiner in another black eye for the U.K. accounting industry. Former EY partner Amjad Rihan had told the court that the accounting firm tried to suppress a report that uncovered multiple problems at the refiner, including allegations about the importation of gold from Moroccan suppliers that had been coated with silver to avoid export restrictions.

Deloitte only ‘Big Four’ firm to commit to retaining staff during crisis [The Irish Times] Deloitte is the only “Big Four” accountancy firm operating in Ireland that has committed to retaining its staff throughout the Covid-19 crisis, though the firm’s partners have taken pay cuts. Deloitte’s position contrasts with that of rivals PwC, EY and KPMG, as none have made a public commitment to retain staff or confirmed if their highest paid partners would take salary cuts.

Leading accounting firm MNP hit with cyberattack [BleepingComputer] Canadian accounting firm MNP’s systems were impacted last weekend in what BleepingComputer was told was a ransomware attack. When the company discovered that an attack was taking place, they shut down the systems throughout the company to prevent more devices from being infected. MNP has over 80 offices, and most employees were kept offline as the investigation continued. During this period, accountants were told to be on standby to work if and when the systems went back online.

Partner Pay Cuts Might Not Suffice for U.K. Accounting Giants [Bloomberg Tax] The major accounting firms shifted into survival mode this week in the U.K., slashing partner pay in the hopes of protecting jobs once they emerge from the coronavirus crisis. Yet as the pandemic continues to wreak economic havoc, the question is whether more systemic change will be needed. The big accounting firms may have to consider changes to their core business models, refocusing on audit as their more lucrative advisory business withers.

More CFOs expect layoffs due to coronavirus [Accounting Today] The survey, from PricewaterhouseCoopers, found that 26 percent of the CFOs polled from 313 U.S. companies anticipate layoffs, compared to 16 percent two weeks ago during a similar survey by PwC of CFOs in the U.S. and Mexico. There is some variation by industry sector, however, with only 13 percent of financial services CFOs expecting layoffs, while more CFOs in the industrial products (36 percent) and consumer markets (30 percent) expect layoffs.

KPMG loses bid to force arbitration with Millennium trustee [Reuters] Accounting firm KPMG has lost a bid to force arbitration in a lawsuit filed on behalf of investors in medical testing company Millennium Health over allegedly flawed audit reports.

Meet the chatbot helping super funds cope with COVID-19 [Australian Financial Review] Big four professional services firm Deloitte has built an artificial intelligence application to reduce the strain on struggling superannuation funds facing unprecedented member inquiries amid the coronavirus public health crisis and related market volatility. Partners and business development managers attached to the firm’s technology consulting arm, Deloitte Digital, are currently in market spruiking a “COVID-19 Super Bot” to Australia’s swamped superannuation trustees.

Pandemic alters lease accounting landscape [Journal of Accountancy] The coronavirus pandemic has significantly altered the landscape for CPAs related to the lease accounting standard. The changes include a potential effective date delay of FASB’s new lease accounting standard for certain entities, including private companies; a monumental increase in the number of lease modifications requested by lessees and granted by lessors; and the need for disclosures related to a company’s lease accounting decisions in the new environment.

Deloitte postpones request for nearly $500k job incentive package, citing coronavirus [Orlando Sentinel] Pointing to the novel coronavirus, Deloitte Consulting LLP, one of the largest technology and consulting firms in the world, pulled back its request today for $480,000 from Seminole County to help the company create 400 professional jobs over the next three years at its office complex in Lake Mary.

Deloitte Forces Redo of Grant Thornton’s Budget Support Award [Bloomberg Tax] Deloitte Consulting LLP demonstrated that the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service improperly awarded Grant Thornton LLP a task order for federal budget formulation services, the GAO said. Because Grant Thornton’s bid took exception to the solicitation’s delivery schedule requirements, the agency should reopen discussions with both bidders or terminate the award for the convenience of the government, the Government Accountability Office said in a decision released Tuesday.

Former accountant alleges discrimination in lawsuit against Columbine Country Club [Business Den] The former controller of Columbine Country Club said his 2018 termination amounted to discrimination. Michael Shapiro said in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Denver last week that the Littleton golf venue fired him after he raised concerns about being “harassed as a member of the Jewish faith” and repeatedly referred to by his boss as “grumpy.”