It’s not entirely clear why Jonathon P. Reuben’s services are no longer needed but you could easily conclude that the GCO wasn’t appreciated.
On June 20, 2011, the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of Glen Rose Petroleum Corporation (the “Company”) approved the termination of services of Jonathon P. Reuben CPA, An Accountancy Corporation (“JPR”), effective immediately.
JPR was the independent registered public accounting firm for the Company for the fiscal years ended March 31, 2010 and 2009. The reports of JPR on the Company’s financial statements for the years ended March 31, 2010 and 2009 did not contain an adverse opinion or disclaimer of opinion, and such reports were not qualified or modified as to uncertainty, audit scope, or accounting principle, except that the reports of JPR on the Company’s consolidated financial statements as of and for the years ended March 31, 2010 and 2009 contained an explanatory paragraph which noted that there was substantial doubt as to the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern due to a deficit in working capital and incurring significant losses.
BDO will take it from here. Perhaps a nice welcome to the partnership gift for one of the newbies?
For anyone that missed it earlier, the PCAOB issued a concept release today putting out some ideas for changes to the auditor’s report. The members of the Board also took the opportunity to say a few words and Mr. Harris saw an opportunity to point some things out:
The events of the last few years have been a case study of the inability of auditors to provide investors with any meaningful signal about increases in financial reporting risks when management assessments or estimates change dramatically, or when debates over significant accounting issues become difficult or contentious.
And he added the following for good measure:
Out of the ten largest bankruptcies during the financial crisis, only two had going concern opinions. During the year leading up to their bankruptcy filings, the market capitalization of the eight companies without going concern opinions declined from a collective $75.5 billion in the year prior to their respective bankruptcy filings to a collective market capitalization of just under $700 million at the time of their filing – a 99% loss in investor value.
Now before you get all worked up about these, the Board is inviting everyone to throw out comments before September 30th, make other suggestions and participate in a roundtable during the third quarter in case you are inclined to heckle them for making your life more difficult. Anyway, here’s what they’ve got:
• An auditor’s discussion and analysis;
• Required and expanded use of emphasis paragraphs;
• Auditor assurance on other information outside the financial statements; and,
• Clarification of language in the standard auditor’s report.
These are just suggestions mind you, so if you’ve got something better in mind, feel free to share below.
SEC commissioners will vote today on proposed changes to broker-dealer auditing and reporting rules at a meeting in Washington. As with the 2009 rules, which tightened oversight of advisers’ custody of client assets after Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme was exposed, the new changes increase oversight of the minority of about 300 broker-dealers who hold customers’ cash.
The proposals — which would be opened for a 60-day comment period — would require that a broker-dealer’s internal controls be checked by a registered public accounting firm and would let regulators examine the broker-dealer’s audits. Broker-dealers would have to file quarterly reports describing whether they have access to client money and how any access is controlled. [Bloomberg]
Some clients treat their auditors like dirt. Given. To these haters, the financial statement audit is an onerous task that is mandated by the SEC and it amounts to an assault on liberty, capitalism and Ayn Rand’s genius. Accordingly, some clients try to push auditors around because typically they can. Today we bring you a rare example of a pushy-ass client going too far and an auditor standing up for themselves.
Ernst & Young resigned at the auditor of Life Partners Holdings Inc. in a letter dated June 6, 2011 after the CEO, Brian Pardo, WROTE IN A MEMO that he would “take action” against the firm if they did not sign off on the financial statemen t committee got wind of this little soapbox moment and promptly told E&Y about it.
From the 8-K Filing:
On June 6, 2011, Life Partners Holdings, Inc. (“we” or “Life Partners”) received a letter from Ernst & Young LLP (“Ernst & Young”) addressed to the Chairman of our Audit Committee (the “Resignation Letter”) confirming that it had resigned effective June 3, 2011, as our independent registered public accounting firm, as had been orally communicated to the Chairman of the Audit Committee on June 3, 2011. The resignation means that Ernst & Young will not certify our financial statements for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2011 (“Fiscal 2011”), which is necessary for completing and filing our Annual Report on Form 10-K for Fiscal 2011 (the “2011 Annual Report”).
The resignation follows a letter from Mr. Brian Pardo, our Chairman and CEO, to our licensee network (persons who refer purchasers to us) commenting upon the delayed filing of our 2011 Annual Report. The letter stated that it was Mr. Pardo’s position that we would “take action” against Ernst & Young if it did not promptly complete its audit and sign off on our financial statements without adjustment. Our Audit Committee wrote to Ernst & Young disclaiming the letter’s statements and asserting that the letter did not speak for the Audit Committee. Notwithstanding the Audit Committee’s disclaimer, Ernst & Young stated that the letter compromised its independence, and when considered with other recent developments, that it was no longer able to rely upon management’s representations, and that it was unwilling to be associated with the financial statements prepared by management.
Just for good measure, E&Y also stated that the company’s revenue recognition policy sucks, needs revised and they pulled their unqualified opinion over the 2010 financial statements. How’s that for “action”?
As noted by the first comment below, the second comment on a post over at Deal Journal has what appears to be the memo in question from Brian Pardo.
Message From Brian Pardo
Yesterday we filed for an extension of the time to file our annual10K which should have been filed by May 15th because the Auditors have not yet completed their part. Quite frankly I am confident that the SEC is interfering with us by trying to unnerve the Auditors (by asking frivolous questions) which has added to the delay in getting out the 10K which is done and ready to release. They are trying to force us to “restate” our revenue recognition criteria; one that has been in use for ten years now.
Restating for any period, for any reason is viewed by the market as an implicit admission that prior quarters were probably misstated, which they were not. We do expect to file shortly, but the WSJ called last night to print another negative article.
There is no reason to restate because any proposed adjustment is immaterial under GAAP guidelines. E&Y signed off on our revenue recognition criteria policy last year and every other audit firm has as well since we went public in 2000. However some of your clients will probably read about it in the WSJ or in some other supposedly legitimate news media. And, the shorts will no doubt make a big deal about it.
My position is we either ratify the 10k as is very soon or we will take action against E&Y as well as with the SEC in Washington. It is time to put an end to this nonsense! I believe E&Y is trying to mitigate problems they may have with the SEC at our expense. For instance, we were never told by E&Y that they audited at least one large organization in the Madoff matter.
We are well within GAAP boundaries regarding every of aspect of our financial statements including all materials created, used or reviewed in relation to our published financial statements. We have ten years of doing this the exact same way and every Auditor from every firm for the entire time has signed off on every single 10k over those last 10 years.
Brian D. Pardo
PS You are authorized to share my statement with concerned clients and Licensees, but, not the press although the matter is in the public domain now.
Chinese companies certainly have had their share of problems with financial reporting in the U.S. but I had no idea that it would come to this.
The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of Weikang Bio-Technology Group Co., Inc. (OTC Markets: WKBT.PK – News) (“WKBT,” “Weikang” or the “Company”), a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Western prescription and OTC pharmaceuticals and other health and nutritional products in the People’s Republic of China, today announced that Grant Thornton (“GT”), one of the world’s leading organizations of independently owned and managed accounting and consulting firms, has verified that the cash amounts listed on the Company’s SEC filings for 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 are consistent with account statements obtained from WKBT’s banks directly by GT.
“Given the recent change in auditors and my new chairmanship of the WKBT Audit Committee, we authorized the Grant Thornton review to take place last week, and are now releasing the results,” said Jeffery Chuang, independent director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of WKBT. “Weikang continues to advance as a U.S. publicly-traded company and we are committed to high standards in the thoroughness of our financial information,” said Mr. Chuang, a U.S. CPA who is based in Southern California.
Obviously this is completely harmless compared to, say, threatening to take auditors hostage but as far as giant wastes of time go, it’s right near the top.
Back in March, Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil called attention to a PCAOB report that was pretty harsh on KPMG-Bermuda’s audit of Alterra Capital Holdings. At the time he wrote the column, KPMG, the PCAOB and Alterra weren’t talking but then Alterra filed a 8-K admitting that they were the filer in question.
Today Weil lets the cat out of the bag again and yes it’s another KPMG client, Motorola: lockquote>Four years ago, inspectors for the auditing industry’s chief watchdog discovered that KPMG LLP had let Motorola Inc. record revenue during the third quarter of 2006 from a transaction with Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), even though the final contract wasn’t signed until the early hours of the fourth quarter. That’s no small technicality. Without the deal, Motorola would have missed its third-quarter earnings target.
The regulator, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, later criticized KPMG for letting Motorola book the revenue when it did. Although KPMG had discussed the transaction’s timing with both Motorola and Qualcomm, the board said the firm “failed to obtain persuasive evidence of an arrangement for revenue-recognition purposes in the third quarter.” In other words, KPMG had no good reason to believe the deal shouldn’t have been recorded in the fourth quarter.
This may sound familiar to some of you that read PCAOB Chairman James Doty’s speech from last week when he said this:
PCAOB inspectors found at one large firm that an engagement team was aware that a significant contract was not signed until the early hours of the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the audit partner allowed the company to book the transaction in the third quarter, which allowed the company to meet its earnings target. Although the firm discussed the timing of the transaction with the customer, it failed to obtain persuasive evidence of an arrangement for revenue recognition purposes in the third quarter. The company had been an audit client of the firm for close to 50 years.
Weil writes, “KPMG has been Motorola’s auditor since 1959; it had been Motorola’s auditor for 47 years at the time of the Qualcomm deal.” So, yeah. How did he piece this one together? Elementary, my dear auditors:
Motorola’s identity was disclosed in public records last month as part of a class-action shareholder lawsuit against the company in a federal district court in Chicago. The plaintiffs in the case, led by the Macomb County Employees’ Retirement System in Michigan, filed a transcript of a September 2010 deposition of a KPMG auditor, David Pratt, who testified that Issuer C was Motorola. KPMG isn’t a defendant in the lawsuit.
Pratt also identified the Motorola customers cited in the board’s inspection report. It’s his deposition that allows me to describe the report’s findings using real names.
The oversight board said a significant portion of the company’s earnings for the 2006 third quarter came from two licensing agreements that were recorded during the last three days of the quarter. One was the Qualcomm deal that wasn’t signed until the fourth quarter. The board also cited other deficiencies in KPMG’s review of Motorola’s accounting for the transactions.
As is their wont, KPMG isn’t talking. Motorola isn’t talking (but maybe there’s another 8-K in our future?). The PCAOB, bound by the law -which, some say, is debatable – isn’t talking. My guess is that Jon Weil will continue to talk…er…write columns shining the lights on shoddy audits until the Board breaks its silence.
Dirty Secrets Fester in 50-Year Relationships [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]
A hospital in Winnipeg is suing Deloitte after an ATM scam went undiscovered for over ten years. Luckily some vigilant RN, janitor or cafeteria worker (it’s not clear from the article) noticed something amiss and alerted the proper authorities.
Police arrested a long-time hospital employee last year after she allegedly skimmed $1.5 million from automated teller machine (ATM) deposits between 2000 and 2010.
According to a lawsuit filed last week, the fraud was uncovered by hospital staff, not the auditor. The lawsuit accuses Deloitte & Touche of preparing financial statements not in accordance with “generally accepted accounting principles” and “materially misleading” the hospital about its financial position.
“MHC says that D & T owed it a duty in contract and owed it a duty of care not to act negligently or make negligent misrepresentations to MHC and to ensure that cash and liquid assets as reported in the financial statements were not materially misstated.”
According to the lawsuit, a former finance clerk deposited Worker’s Compensation Board cheques into the hospital operated ATM, understated the amount and pocketed the difference.
All this trouble and no one was even taken hostage. Not good, Green Dot.
Misericordia Health Centre files suit against auditor [Winnipeg Sun]
Ron Fink at CFO Journal reports that CFOs that are breaking out in a rash due to auditor rotation anxiety might be having a knee-jerk hypochondriacal reaction.
You see, the company that the media loves to figuratively fellate, Apple, opted to put their audit business out to bid every five years and not only have costs gone down, “it has reported no problems with its financial results as a result of the change.” So now Apple is also more progressive and transparent with their corporate governance processes than your company. And you don’t have the iPad. [CFO Journal]
As you may have heard, PCAOB Chairman Jim Doty gave a speech at the University of Southern California yesterday where he discussed among other things, the possibility of mandatory auditor rotation and changing the standard auditor’s report. The prospect of these two changes aren’t exactly something auditors are stoked about but some people are of the opinion that a) auditors like to get a little too chummy with their clients which leads to b) not taking the “independence” thing too seriously and c) the auditor’s report, in its current form, its pretty much worthless.
You can read Doty’s entire speech over at the PCAOB website where touches on all of these but here’s one example around independence that probably qualifies for, in Doty’s words, “[an] approach [to] the audit with an inappropriate mindset”
[An] audit partner’s self-assessment claimed that he “overcame long-standing barriers against non-audit services at [two audit clients] with a series of well-planned meetings and supporting presentations with the Audit Committee Chair, the full Audit Committee, the CEO and the CFO at both companies.”
In response, his reviewing partner noted that he was –
highly alert to cross service line opportunities and has successfully penetrated both of his accounts where few services had been
provided in the past. The results of these efforts were a number of proposals and wins but the efforts will likely impact FY 11 in [a] more significant way.
Anyway, there are other stories of bad auditor behavior, so check the whole speech if you feel so inclined. And while Chairman Doty admitted that “We don’t see these problems in all the files we look at,” it causes he and others to wonder if “these audit partners are unaware of, or simply unconcerned about, the independence rule that should make such considerations irrelevant to their compensation, and why a firm would allow such unawareness or unconcern to continue unabated.”
So flagrantly bending the rules to the point where they might as well be breaking or stupidity? Neither is too flattering.
Welcome to the at-least-you’re-not-John-Edwards edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a first-year auditor has an opportunity to do a rotation with Transaction Services but feels that his senior manager has taken an aggressive cock-block position. Will our hero have to get their performance manager involved or resort to thinly-veiled threats?
I am a long time GC reader, and I usually only read the career advice postings to feel slightly better about my own situation. Now, however, I find myself with a question that I would love to put before the GC readership. I am a first year at a B4. I enjoy my job, but am always interested in a new opportunity. Recently, I was offered a rotation in transaction services that will last a few months. I accepted the opportunity, but the timing of the rotation was not set in stone. I just found out that a sr. mgr. on my biggest client is trying to keep me staffed on that engagement at the expense of the opportunity of taking the rotation.
I have made my interest in taking a TS rotation since day one, and my performance manager supports it 100%. He knows that I was offered the rotation, but not that the sr mgr is standing in the way. I would like to know how to proceed. Should I go over the sr mgr? Should I forget the rotation? I enjoy my audit clients and don’t want to be seen as someone who will leave as soon as a better opportunity comes along, but this is a particular interest of mine that I made know upfront.
Dear Cock-blocked Auditor,
Sounds like your senior manager has a non-sexual, professional crush on you. That can be a good thing but in your case, it’s a very bad thing. Your senior manager probably wants the best team possible and it sounds like that would involve you but you’ve got your own ambitions and those need to be respected. This especially true because TS has already offer has been extended to you. It’s not for someone else (senior manager or not) to stick their beak in your business and prevent you from following the career path you choose.
Having said all that, I suggest that you first talk to the senior manager on your audit engagement. You say that they are blocking the rotation but how do you know? Nothing in your email indicates that (s)he walked straight up to you, pointed a finger in your chest and said, “You’re mine, bitch!” It’s entirely possible that the SM kept you on to prevent you from getting picked up by anyone else. This will allow you to get the story straight before running off to your performance manager. If your suspicions are true (or you did experience a finger pointing incident), then it’s time to get your PM involved. If he is “100%” behind this opportunity like you say, then this should get resolved rather quickly. Transaction Services obviously wants you to work with them and it’s something you’re interested in doing. That isn’t complicated but these things do take time and that may be the hold-up.
So be patient but be direct. Until your rotation’s timing is finalized, there’s no need to get anxious but confirm the motivation behind the scheduling before you have to pull out the big guns. Good luck.
Nearly two years after Texas financier Allen Stanford was indicted in an alleged massive Ponzi scheme, investors have just filed a $10 billion proposed class action suit against his auditor—the giant accounting firm BDO.
The suit—filed Thursday in federal court in Dallas—says BDO did not only aid and abet the $7 billion dollar fraud…it was a “co-conspirator.” “BDO’s cozy relationship with the Stanford Financial Group was steeped in conflicts of interest and required ongoing deceptive and duplicitous manipulation of the facts to allow the Ponzi scheme’s exponential growth for over a decade,” the complaint says. “The result of this deception is the loss of thousands of investors’ life savings.” [CNBC]
On Monday, we reported on Longtop Financial Technologies was the latest Chinese company to have their CFO quit, auditor resign and be accused of being a massive fraud. This particular story was interesting as one of the reasons cited by Deloitte for dumping LFT included “the unlawful detention of DTT’s audit files.” These accusations were described in much more detail in Deloitte’s letter to the company’s audit committee that was filed with the SEC and you may even conclude that the staff were thisclose to being hos
We italicized and bolded the best part.
The Audit Committee
Longtop Financial Technologies Limited
No. 61 Wanghai Road, Xiamen Software Park
Xiamen, Fujian Province
People’s Republic of China
Attention: Mr. Thomas Gurnee, Chairman of the Audit Committee
Longtop Financial Technologies Limited (the “Company”) and together with its subsidiaries (the “Group”)
Audit for the Year Ended 31 March 2011
We hereby give you formal notice of our resignation as auditor of the Company.
Background and significant issues encountered by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd. (China) (“Deloitte”)
As part of the process for auditing the Company’s financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2011, we determined that, in regard to bank confirmations, it was appropriate to perform follow up visits to certain banks. These audit steps were recently performed and identified a number of very serious defects including: statements by bank staff that their bank had no record of certain transactions; confirmation replies previously received were said to be false; significant differences in deposit balances reported by the bank staff compared with the amounts identified in previously received confirmations (and in the books and records of the Group); and significant bank borrowings reported by bank staff not identified in previously received confirmations (and not recorded in the books and records of the Group).
In the light of this, a formal second round of bank confirmation was initiated on 17 May. Within hours however, as a result of intervention by the Company’s officials including the Chief Operating Officer, the confirmation process was stopped amid serious and troubling new developments including: calls to banks by the Company asserting that Deloitte was not their auditor; seizure by the Company’s staff of second round bank confirmation documentation on bank premises; threats to stop our staff leaving the Company premises unless they allowed the Company to retain our audit files then on the premises; and then seizure by the Company of certain of our working papers.
In that connection, we must insist that you promptly return our documents.
Then on 20 May the Chairman of the Company, Mr. Jia Xiao Gong called our Eastern Region Managing Partner, Mr. Paul Sin, and informed him in the course of their conversation that “there were fake revenue in the past so there were fake cash recorded on the books”. Mr. Jia did not answer when questioned as to the extent and duration of the discrepancies. When asked who was involved, Mr. Jia answered: “senior management”.
We bring these significant issues to your attention in the context of our responsibilities under Statement on Auditing Standards No. 99 “Consideration of Fraud in a Financial Statement Audit” issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Reasons for our resignation
The reasons for our resignation include: 1) the recently identified falsity of the Group’s financial records in relation to cash at bank and loan balances (and also now seemingly in the sales revenue); 2) the deliberate interference by the management in our audit process; and 3) the unlawful detention of our audit files. These recent developments undermine our ability to rely on the representations of the management which is an essential element of the audit process; hence our resignation.
Prior periods’ financial reports and our reports thereon
We have reached the conclusion that we are no longer able to place reliance on management representations in relation to prior period financial reports. Accordingly, we request that the Company take immediate steps to make the necessary 8-K filing to state that continuing reliance should no longer be placed on our audit reports on the previous financial statements and moreover that we decline to be associated with any of the Company’s financial communications during 2010 and 2011.
We hereby consent to a copy of this letter being supplied to the SEC and the succeeding auditor to be appointed.
Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (U.S.)
In our view, without providing any legal conclusion, the circumstances mentioned above could constitute illegal acts for purposes of Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Accordingly, we remind the Board of its obligations under Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act, including the notice requirements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. You may consider taking legal advice on this.
/s/ Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd.
c.c.: The Board of Directors
Welcome to the can-we-trade-twisters-for-raptures? edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a small firm associate works in a sink or swim environment and he feels like sandbags are tied to his feet. Is there anything he can do to sink less?
Back to accountant who needs a life preserver:
How do I deal with not having much support at my office? I just started around 4 months ago as a staff accountant and anytime I have a question, my boss tells me to figure it out, to bring him the financials so he “can do (my) job for (me)” or to just move on to the next audit.
There are seven full time employees here and my boss and I are the only ones working through audits. I really want to learn the entire process of performing audits, but I can’t get anyone to help me. I’ve asked around, Googled and even asked him to guide me through the process. There has not been any training as to their methodology for auditing. Is this typical for very small local firms? I’ve heard the first year is the hardest and you dont really know anything. I feel like I’m trying to drink out of a firehose! Help!
– Doing My Best
Dear Doing My Best,
To quote a Scotsman from some terrible over-budgeted spoon-fed cinema: losers whine about their best and winners go home and fuck the prom queen. Since you work at an accounting firm (where no one really wins) and haven’t been in sniffing distance of a prom dress in ages, that advice doesn’t really do you much good. Lucky for you, I’m familiar with your plight.
Small firms are enormously diverse and you’re at an extremely small firm. I started my career in a similar situation, at firm with less than 20 people. In that scenario, it was difficult to get anyone to explain anything to me, “methodology” wasn’t really thrown around much (literally or figuratively) and training was virtually non-existent. So to answer your question: your experience is common at a small firm and the first year is extremely tough.
Now, as for what you can do about it – my advice would be to really think about your questions before you ask them. If you’re running to your “boss” every five minutes with a question, it’s not surprising that they might lose patience with you. Really try to work through problems until you’re absolutely stuck on something. Small firms are fond of “look at last year’s file” as standard operating procedure and you should do just that. Most of these clients won’t have much for changes and their business shouldn’t be complicated, so using last year’s files as reference will be helpful.
If you find yourself having done as much work as possible and are at a dead end, then go to your boss and explain exactly what you’ve tried to do and why you’re stuck in neutral. If you explain to them all the roads you’ve tried to take, then they might be more willing to point you in the right direction. If he/she is still unwilling to help, then you might consider calling them out for it or request to work on something other than audits. If you don’t feel like you’re learning anything because no one has taken the time to teach you anything, that reflects poorly on them not you. If they act like they’re above giving you any guidance, then it’s pretty clear that they suck at their job.
If you manage to make some headway, you’ll start to notice that things eventually begin to make sense and year two (granted you survive) will be much easier than the first. Good luck.
And yes the perpetrator, Longtop Financial Technologies, is a Chinese company.
As we mentioned, Deloitte had some decent reasons for kicking LFT to curb, among them:
(1) the recently identified falsity of the Company’s financial records in relation to cash at bank and loan balances (and possibly in sales revenue); (2) the deliberate interference by certain members of Longtop management in DTT’s audit process; and (3) the unlawful detention of DTT’s audit files. DTT further stated that DTT was no longer able to rely on management’s representations in relation to prior period financial reports, that continued reliance should no longer be placed on DTT’s audit reports on the previous financial statements, and DTT declined to be associated with any of the Company’s financial communications in 2010 and 2011.
And because it seems to be the standard narrative in stories such as these, Longtop’s CFO has resigned and “The Audit Committee has also initiated a search for a new auditor.” Although were not sure if there’s a firm out there that will pick up a client who has engaged in hostage taking.
Big win for the KPMG audit practice in New York as we’ve confirmed that the Asset Management group has won more audit work from the Westport, Connecticut hedge fund.
This week Institutional Investor compiled the largest 25 Hedge Funds and Bridgewater was at the top with $58.9 billion in hedge fund assets. Our source, someone familiar with matter, was impressed, “Huge win for them considering they’re typically fighting for 3rd in those major bids.” It’s our understanding that KPMG had some work from BW but adding more engagements will make for a prestigious addition to their client roster. Congrats to KPMG and the team that made it happen.
From the mailbag:
I am reading about PWC getting some spring love in the form of a bonus, and other firms already openly discussing compensation with their employees. Apparently Big D missed that memo.
Everybody at Deloitte had a terrible busy season, that is no secret. We changed our audit methodology, and then in December the powers that be decided to do some last minute tweaking, aka destroy any hope of a bearable busy season. I am a senior working out of Boston and have been pretty busy since October. To reward my hard work Deloitte has given me absolutely nothing. There was no post audit dinner, no monetary reward, not even a free cup of coffee. I did however (and so did everyone else in Boston) receive emails from every executive partner in the NE thanking us for all our hard work, reminding us how much money we made the firm, and telling us to reward ourselves by taking some time off. Apparently being rewarded now means using our own PTO to take a day off. I have had to work both firm holidays up to now (one in January and one in April for the Boston Marathon), so I am not sure when they think we can reward ourselves by using the PTO we already earned. Usually engagement teams hand out “Applause Awards” to their people for hard work, and maybe I am just on a few teams with Ebenezer Scrooge Partners, but I think it is crazy that either Deloitte, or the Boston Office, or one of my engagement partners couldn’t scratch together a few dollars as a thank you for the long hours.
Partners and HR continue to wonder why people leave, but we are continually asked to do more and more and never rewarded for it. With the other firms opening up the piggy banks already, what are the chances that Deloitte follows suit? They missed the mark last year on the compensation, and everyone suffered as a result with the crush of seniors headed for the door. As a result they ended up giving a mid-year raise just to stem the bleeding. Are partners too busy looking to next year or playing golf at their fancy country clubs to remember the little people?
Of course our writer is referring to the PwC bonuses we wrote about on Monday. Don’t know if this is a Deloitte problem or a Boston Deloitte problem but it sounds like Green Dots in Beantown are wicked pissed. How’s your office faring? Tell us below or email us.
The CAQ’s continuing dialogue with individual investors indicates that many in the marketplace do not fully understand the scope of the audit process and the responsibilities placed on public company auditors. The In-Depth Guide to Public Company Auditing will help to bridge that information gap. The new Guide describes how a public company audit firm decides to accept a new audit engagement, how it assesses the risk that the financial statements contain material misstatements as part of determining the audit’s scope, and then how the auditors perform and report their findings – all in plain English. [Cindy Fornelli/CAQ, Guide]
The House of Klynveld resigned as the auditor Shanghai-based ShengdaTech, Inc. effective April 29th after less than three years. According to the 8-K filed yesterday, KPMG was none too impressed with management blowing off their concerns:
KPMG previously informed the Company’s Audit Committee of certain concerns arising during its incomplete audits of the Company’s consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2010, and the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2010. These concerns included serious discrepancies and unexplained issues relating to, among others: (i) the Company’s bank balances; (ii) transactions with major suppliers; (iii) VAT invoices and payments; (iv) sales and payments for sales by third parties; (v) sales to the Company’s second largest customer; (vi) discrepancies between KPMG’s direct calls to customers and confirmations returned by mail; and (vii) concerns raised by directly confirming customer sales and accounts receivables.
In a letter dated April 19, 2011, KPMG informed the board of directors of the Company that in KPMG’s view the Company’s senior management has not taken, and the board of directors has not caused senior management to take, timely and appropriate remedial actions with respect to these discrepancies and/or issues, and KPMG stated that the continued lack of resolution of the issues would materially impact the financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2010 and possibly prior periods.
And as you might expect, this resulted in KPMG taking its audit reports and going home:
On April 29, 2011, we were also informed by KPMG, our former independent accounting firm, that disclosures should be made and action should be taken to prevent future reliance on their previously issued audit reports related to the consolidated balance sheets of ShengdaTech, Inc. and its subsidiaries as of December 31, 2008 and 2009, and the related consolidated statements of income, shareholders’ equity and comprehensive income, and cash flows for the years then ended and the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2008 and 2009.
The PCAOB has just made a serious example out of Bountiful (yes, it’s a town), Utah-based Chisholm, Bierwolf, Nilson & Morrill by banning the firm permanently from auditing public companies after “numerous violations of professional standards, including failure to detect fraud.” The Board also barred former managing partner Todd Chisholm for life and partner Troy Nilson for five years.
Curious about what kind of shoddy work the firm performed to get such a slap? Us too. Luckily the Salt Lake Trib has an example:
One of the companies that the firm audited was Powder River Petroleum International Inc., an Oklahoma corporation with offices in Alberta, Canada.
Until it was placed into receivership in 2008, Powder River’s public filings reported that it acquired, developed and resold interests in oil and gas properties. The company resold interest in oil and gas leases to investors in Asia, but reported those investments as income despite also promising investors a return of 9 percent until their principal was recouped, the board said.
That resulted in the company, traded over-the-counter, overstating its revenue by up to 2,417 percent, its pretax income up to 441 percent and assets up to 48 percent.
I called the PCOAB to see if this was the most severe ban every given to a firm and a CPA but couldn’t get an immediate answer. The five year ban also seems pretty severe. Doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch since the Board has only issued 36 disciplinary actions since 2005. I’ll update the post when I get some definitive answers. UPDATE: We’ve been informed that “it’s among the most severe” penalties issued.
It’s also worth noting that two of the firm’s clients – Hendrx Corp. and Jade Art Group – had substantial Chinese operations which wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t for this, “Chisholm, who does not speak or understand Chinese, relied on Firm assistants with Chinese language skills to identify audit issues, communicate with management and third-parties, and analyze documents provided by the issuer.”
Maybe those “assistants” were audit wizards, maybe they weren’t but either way, Mr Chisholm might be looking to change careers.
Last week Navistar International Corp. sued Deloitte for $500 million alleging “fraud, fraudulent concealment, breach of contract and malpractice” on audits from 2002 to 2005. That, in and of itself, isn’t too unusual. What is pretty fun (not fun in a “man, the circus is fun” kind of way but in “you’ve gotta love this stuff” kind of way) is when a company comes right out and says that Deloitte lied about its competency to provide audit services.