A little data point for you to feast on as we go forth into the new year: the PCAOB levied record fines of $11 million in 2022, more than $8 million against KPMG alone.
2022 was also the year the PCAOB handed out the largest civil money penalty against an individual in PCAOB history ($150,000). Will they beat their high score this year? The odds are pretty good. If you have caught any of PCAOB Chair Erica Williams’ speeches in the last 12 months, you know that she and the PCAOB are done playing around.
According to FT, all this fining might do some good. The PCAOB is planning “a big expansion” of its scholarship program for students this year.
Under the law that created the PCAOB 20 years ago, in the wake of the accounting scandal at Enron, the fines it collects are put in a scholarship fund and distributed to promising accounting students across the US to help cover tuition and other education costs.
The agency gave out 250 awards in 2022 and is planning as many as 325 this year, according to PCAOB chair Erica Williams.
“We have to make sure that investors are protected today, but we’re looking to make sure they’re protected tomorrow as well,” she said. “There is a decreasing number of people majoring in accounting, and this is our opportunity to pull more young people into the field and also to expand the types of young people who see it as a path for themselves.”
The PCAOB Scholars Program has handed out more than $18 million in scholarships since 2011. These scholarships are one-time awards and cover direct education expenses like tuition and books.
So yeah. The fines will continue until morale improves. Nice to know all that bad auditing is doing some good.