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January 29, 2023

Grant Thornton Current and Former Partners Will Have a Seat In the PCAOB’s Penalty Box

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board doled out suspensions to a current partner and a former partner at Grant Thornton on Feb. 26 for their roles in screwing up the 2013 audit of a real estate investment trust.

Richard Huff Jr.

Richard Huff Jr., CPA, was censured and given a one-year ban by the PCAOB. Huff was the engagement partner on Grant Thornton’s integrated audits of the Dec. 31, 2012 and 2013 financial statements and internal control over financial reporting of the REIT.

According to the enforcement order, Huff retired from Grant Thornton’s Philadelphia office on July 31, 2016; however, Tammy Whitehouse of Compliance Week reported that Huff is now a principal at CliftonLarsonAllen.

Wayne Kaplan, CPA, who was the engagement quality reviewer, was censured and received a two-year practice limitation on serving as an engagement quality reviewer.

Wayne Kaplan

He has been a partner with Grant Thornton since 1995 and was the office managing partner of Grant Thornton’s Philadelphia office from August 2011 to July 2015, according to the enforcement order.

Compliance Week reported that Kaplan is currently a partner-in-charge in industries and markets at GT’s Philadelphia office.

Here’s how the PCAOB summarizes Huff’s transgressions:

Then there’s this tidbit:

The enforcement order says Grant Thornton placed Huff on a partner performance plan to address audit quality issues that arose before the 2013 audit. That plan mandated that Huff take certain steps to improve his performance.

Well, back in late December 2017, when Grant Thornton agreed to pay a $1.5 million civil penalty to the PCAOB for quality control violations and audit failures, Caleb wrote that the quality control violations were “related to the assignment of two Philadelphia-based partners to audits in 2013 when they had been cited for shoddy work in the past.”

One partner was David Burns, who was sanctioned and fined $15,000 for violating audit standards in the 2013 audit of Bancorp. The other partner in the PCAOB enforcement order was not named but referred to as “Partner B.”

Caleb wrote:

It seems to me that Huff was “Partner B,” and it seems to me that Grant Thornton didn’t learn any kind of valuable lesson here.

Now, let’s get to Kaplan:

As part of their sanctions, both men have to complete additional professional education and training. That shouldn’t be a problem; they’ll have a lot of time on their hands.

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