October 23, 2020

Oh Look, Another Big 4 Audit Firm Settled with the SEC Over Independence Violations

The SEC has fined Deloitte over $1 million for violating auditor independence rules.

The consulting side of the house had a thing going with a trustee, Andrew Boynton, of three funds the firm audited. Deloitte did self-report the violation in 2012, although at that point, the firm had been violation for five years. Sounds like they have a ways to go to be the auditor's auditor.

Also! The Journal's Angela Chen points out that there seems to be something going around:

In July 2014, for instance, Ernst & Young LLP agreed to pay $4.07 million to settle SEC allegations that an E&Y subsidiary had improperly lobbied congressional staff on behalf of two E&Y audit clients. In January 2014, KPMG LLP agreed to pay $8.2 million after the SEC said it provided non-audit services such as bookkeeping and payroll to affiliates of two of its audit clients, and hired a recently retired tax counsel of a third client’s affiliate only to loan him back to the affiliate to do the same work.

So we have three notable independence violation settlements in 18 months, a relatively short period of time. What should we call this growing string of broken independence?

Is it a "rash" of violations? An "epidemic"? Maybe an "independence turkey"? Or just another version of the same joke? Give it some thought so we're ready for the next one.

[WSJ, SEC Order]  
 

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