Remembering Bernie Madoff: His Character Was Provable on the Golf Course
Bernie Madoff, the Ponzi schemer who died in prison today while serving a 150-year sentence, provided great wealth for my blog, Re:Balance, if not to the broad array of credulous customers from all levels of society, from whom he extracted over $17 billion. One of my favorites, from March 27, 2009, is re-offered here in […]
Bernie Madoff Was Into ‘Madoff Schemes’ Before It Was Cool
“Charles Ponzi is now a footnote. They’re now Madoff schemes.” — Anthony Sabino, a defense lawyer specializing in white collar criminal defense, famously said in July 2009 after Bernie Madoff decided not to appeal his 150-year sentence for fraud. As you’ve probably heard by now, Madoff died today in jail at the age of 82. […]
Bernie Madoff’s Former Accountant Pleads Guilty But Clueless
Paul Konigsberg is going with the guilty but ignorant and terrible at accounting defense: A longtime former accountant to Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty Tuesday to falsifying records and other charges in connection with the convicted financier's Ponzi scheme. "I'm here today to take responsibility for what I did that was wrong," Paul Konigsberg, a former […]
Madoff Accountant’s 5-Year-Old Kid Was Not a Very Good Investor, Therefore He Invested in Madoff
Bernie Madoff's "outside auditor" (popularly known as his "accountant") David Friehling already pleaded guilty to fraud in 2009, at which time he told judge U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein "I am truly sorry for the suffering of all the victims." It turns out among the victims is Friehling's own son, who was five years old […]
Ex-Madoff Accountant Got an Early Start on ‘Clearing His Good Name’
When you're known as "the guy Bernie told us could help with our tax returns," it means getting the ball rolling before the crack of dawn: At 6 a.m. on Thursday, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation met Mr. Konigsberg at his lawyers’ offices in Midtown Manhattan and arrested him. He is expected to […]
Terrible Auditor Really Good at Staying Out of Jail
Bernie Madoff’s auditor – and thereby, the worst auditor ever – David Friehling has had his sentencing delayed for the fourth time.
Apparently he is still “cooperating with federal investigators” which leads some to believe that he might be giving them the lowdown on the Madoffs’ tax returns but really he probably is just trying to convince someone – ANYONE – to give back his beloved CPA. [Lohud via Forbes]
Did KPMG Really Warn HSBC About Madoff Fraud Risks?
A report in Bloomberg apparently thinks so.
From the ‘Berg:
HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Europe’s biggest lender, was warned twice by auditors that entrusting as much as $8 billion in client funds to Bernard Madoff opened it up to “fraud and operational risks.”
KPMG LLP told the London-based bank about the risks in 2006 and 2008 reports. The firm was hired to review how Madoff invested and accounted for the funds, for which HSBC served as custodian. KPMG reported 25 such risks in 2006, and in 2008 found 28, according to copies of the reports obtained by Bloomberg News.
Okay l there for two before everyone gets too excited. Let’s just get one thing straight right off the bat – KPMG probably leaked these reports to Bloomberg (I only say probably because I don’t know for an absolute fact but – COME ON – who else?). Secondly, even though the report says “warned twice by auditors” this was not an audit performed by KPMG; it was “[a] review how Madoff invested and accounted for the funds.” What exactly that entails isn’t clear; possibly agreed-upon procedures? Anyway, here’s what the story says were in the two reports:
In the list of risks in KPMG’s report, number 2 was that “BLM embezzles client funds,” using the initials as shorthand for Bernard L. Madoff. To prevent it, KPMG recommended in both 2006 and 2008 that HSBC “establish a process to monitor monthly statements” and reconcile them with contributions from clients.
The 2006 report listed fraud risk number 5 as “client cash is diverted for personal gain” and risk number 18 as “trade is a sham in order to divert client cash.” It went on to say there were concerns “Madoff LLC falsely reports buy/sell trades without actually executing in order to earn commissions” and “BLM falsifies accounting records which are provided to HSBC.”
KPMG reviewed samples of trades and account statements for both its 2006 and 2008 reports to test the risks and detected no discrepancies, the reports said. Even so, the firm suggested HSBC “consider undertaking a periodic review which includes tracing a sample of client trades back to the bulk order.”
After reading that you might think that KPMG hit a home run but what if the “risk factors” listed are just standard boilerplate risks that are included in every single one of these reports? If that’s the case, then KPMG was slapping in the applicable information as it related to BLM, handed it over and collected a nice fee. Maybe KPMG was all over this but there’s no way to know because A) Bloomberg didn’t republish the reports in full; B) Other KPMG teams close to Madoff are getting their asses sued which means they either ignored the risks or couldn’t get a hold of these two reports and C) HSBC throws KPMG under the bus, essentially saying that they were duped by Berns:
HSBC confirmed hiring KPMG in 2005 and 2008 to review Madoff’s firm, adding it now believed Madoff had tricked the auditors. “It appears from U.S. government filings that Madoff and his employees foiled these reviews by, among other things, providing forged documentation to KPMG,” the bank said in an e- mailed statement.
“KPMG did not conclude in either of its reports that a fraud was being committed by Madoff,” HSBC said. “HSBC did not know that a fraud was being committed and lost $1 billion of its own assets as a victim.”
So did KPMG warn HSBC or not? This Bloomberg story seems to think so but there are is a lot of evidence that KPMG was just as clueless as as everyone else who didn’t walk – or run away screaming, arms flailing – away from Madoff.
HSBC Was Told About Madoff ‘Fraud Risks’ in Two KPMG Reports [Bloomberg]
Accounting News Roundup: Geithner Is Ready to Let Tax Cuts Die; Hayward on His Way Out?; PwC Wants Glitnir Lawsuit Tossed | 07.26.10
No new recession, let tax cuts die: Geithner [Reuters]
“The economy is not likely to slip back into recession but letting tax cuts for t ans expire is necessary to show commitment to cutting budget deficits, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Sunday.
In appearances on several Sunday talk shows, Geithner said only 2 to 3 percent of Americans — those making $250,000 or more a year — will be affected when tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush end on schedule this year.”
BP Said to Prepare Dudley as CEO as Board Looks for Recovery [Bloomberg]
“BP Plc plans to name Robert Dudley to succeed Tony Hayward as chief executive officer as the board looks to recover the company’s position in the U.S., two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Dudley, the director of BP’s oil spill response unit, is ready to be announced as the company’s first American chief and to take the helm Oct. 1, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because a final decision hasn’t yet been made. The decision was reached in discussions with board members about how best to take BP forward and rebuild its U.S. position, the person said.”
Madoff Investors Brace for Lawsuits [WSJ]
“Irving Picard said he could wind up suing about half the estimated 2,000 individual investors he has called “net winners” from their dealings with Mr. Madoff. Such investors withdrew more from Mr. Madoff’s firm than the amount of principal they invested.
‘The people who made money, who got more, have made money at the expense of the people who didn’t,’ said Mr. Picard, who has the power under federal bankruptcy provisions to pursue money withdrawn from Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC before it collapsed in December 2008 and redistribute the funds fairly among victims.
Mr. Picard must file any so-called clawback lawsuits by December, the two-year anniversary of Mr. Madoff’s arrest and the filing of regulatory proceedings against him. ‘We’re not going to wait until the last minute,’ Mr. Picard said.”
Change the world or go home [AccMan]
Dennis Howlett implores you that if you want your firm or business to really stand out then it’s going to take more than a catchy slogan or a boilerplate email to get people’s attention. You best recognize an opportunity when you see one.
“I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve said but it is worth repeating. When disruption like SaaS comes along, it represents an opportunity. From a professional standpoint it should mean that firms can further commoditize what they do by using accounting dashboards that show them the status of their clients’ activity. It is a short step to seeing how this might be integrated into fees, billing, customer satisfaction measurement and the like.”
If You’re Going To San Francisco…AAA Will Be There [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]
Edith Orenstein has the lowdown on this year’s American Accounting Association’s (AAA) annual meeting. This year’s event is in AG’s backyard (she loves giving directions, btw) from July 31 to August 4th and will feature Francine McKenna and Professor Albrecht on one of the panels.
Join Me For a Nice Little CPA Exam Chat on August 3rd! [JDA]
Speaking of Adrienne, she’ll be over at CPA Exam Club to take your questions on everyone’s favorite test on August 3rd. Yes, that’s one week from tomorrow.
PwC Demands Dismissal of Glitnir Lawsuit [Iceland Review]
PwC’s lawyers argue that Glitnir and the firm agreed to do any legal wrangling in Iceland if the poo hit the fan. Late last week they requested that the lawsuit in New York be tossed.
Saltzman Hamma firm details merger with RubinBrown [Denver Business Journal]
“Saltzman Hamma Nelson Massaro LLP, a century-old Denver accounting firm, is merging with St. Louis-based RubinBrown LLP to form what’s expected to be among the 50 largest accounting firms in the United States, principals were set to announce on July 23.
The new entity, which will operate as RubinBrown, will employ 375 people in offices in Denver, St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo. The merger will be effective Aug. 1.”
District Court Denies Charitable Deduction for Donation of Home to Fire Department [TaxProf Blog]
Just donate a car next time. It’s a far worse investment than a house.
IRS Proposes PTIN Fees [JofA]
$50 for your very own preparer tax identification number! Of course there’s also a ‘reasonable fee’ on top of that from “a third-party vendor that will administer the application and renewal process,” that gets thrown in for good measure.
My Life as a White-Collar Criminal [White Collar Fraud]
Sam Antar went on Canadian TV last week to talk about how much fun it is to be a crook. Except the whole possibility of prison part.
Accounting News Roundup: Bush Tax Cuts May Still Have Life; FASB’s ‘Religious War’ Rages; Facebook Might Do an IPO Someday | 07.22.10
Bush Tax Cuts Roil Democrats [WSJ]
“Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) said in an interview Wednesday that Congress shouldn’t allow taxes on the wealthy to rise until the economy is on a sounder footing.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) said through a spokesman that he also supported extending all the expiring tax cuts for now, adding that he wanted to offset the impact on federal deficits as much as possible.
They are the second and third Senate Democrats to come out publicly in recent days in favor of extending all the tax breaks for the time being. Sen. Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) made similar comments last week.”
Madoff’s Ghost Still Haunts SEC [Washington Wire/WSJ]
In testimony earlier in the week, SEC Chair Mary Schapiro told a congressional committee that many of the people that investigated Bernie Madoff – 15 of 20 enforcement attorneys and 19 of 36 examination staffers – have left the Commission. However, that isn’t good enough for Rep. Bill Posey (R – FL).
“Republican Rep. Bill Posey of Florida –- home to many Madoff victims -– said he wants to know if those SEC employees ended up at other regulatory agencies, working for companies they were supposed to regulate, or retired with government pensions.
‘There’s a necessity to know where they went,; said Posey. ‘It’s like letting a pedophile slink out the door or change neighborhoods. We’re dealing with the same type of problem here.’
Schapiro strongly disagreed. ‘These aren’t bad people. In some cases they were people who were very junior and not adequately trained or supervised.’ In other cases, she said, they were pulled from one project to another.”
Despite the proclivities of some SEC employees, we haven’t seen anything warrant that particular label.
FASB in “religious war” to bring in fair value [Accountancy Age]
Lawrence Smith believes in fair value, you might say, in a fanatical sense. The FASB Member was quoted in AA, “Some people have advised us that we shouldn’t say this, but I’ll say it – fair value, to some of us, is almost like a religious war out there and we are trying to deal with that as best we can.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard a FASB member drop the relidge war rhetoric. Marc Siegel used similar language last summer, so there seems to be at least a smidge of seriousness behind .
Plus, at the rate things are going, the debate will soon reach Israel/Palestinian ignorability (word?) levels later this year.
Facebook IPO “when makes sense”, Zuckerberg tells ABC [Reuters]
That is, never.
Trust, but verify [MJS]
Bernie Madoff Doesn’t Sound Particularly Remorseful
“Well, that’s what I did.”
~ Bernie Madoff’s to a fellow prisoner telling him that taking advantage of old ladies was “kind of fucked up.”
Quote of the Day: Harry Markopolos Had That Crazy Look in His Eye | 02.25.10
“If he contacted me and threatened me, I was going to drive down to New York and take him out. At that point it would have come down to him or me; it was as simple as that. The government would have forced me into it by failing to do its job, and failing to protect me. In that situation I felt I had no other options. I was going to kill him.”
~ Harry Markopolos, in his new book, on Bernie Madoff.