Charlie Gasparino: Someone’s Holiday Vacation Is Holding Up the Ernst & Young Settlement Talks
The Fox Business Network ace reporter is saying that Cuomo & Co. would like to settle this thing up ASAP (a “quick scalp” before AC goes to Albany) however it is definitely not happening this week because, “According to people at Ernst & Young […] one of the lead investigators in Cuomo’s office is on vacation.”
Also interesting is that Chaz reports that E&Y thought there wasn’t going to be such a rush to get this thing settled but now everyone is all worked up because the story got leaked.
As for the SEC stuff, we don’t know what to make of it since there’s been hardly any news about talks between E&Y and the Commission. Francine McKenna told us that Gaspo “got a lot of smoke blown up his tush,” which is typical for reporters who cover Big 4 firms once in a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice.
(UPDATE) Dick Bové: The KPMG Citi Team Is ‘An
Exceptional Acceptable Group of Auditors’
And you know he’s not messin’ because that’s what he told Charlie Gasparino and God knows you best not lie to the Fox Business Network’s ace reporter. Sure Bové didn’t actually say “KPMG” (hell, he’s probably never heard the name) but he’s giving credit to auditors which is about as unheard of as Tiger Woods using Trojans with hookers.
Bové may have mentioned some other things about Mike Mayo, Citi, Deferred Tax Assets so on and so forth but we’re sure you’re not worried about that.
Btw, if you need to get caught up on just who Dick Bové is, go here. Courtesy of FBN:
On Citi’s apparent cold shoulder towards analyst Mike Mayo:
“It’s totally wrong. Mike Mayo is a brilliant analyst. He’s been in this business for a long period of time and does a superb job of following the industry. To say he can’t come in and speak to the company in my view is absolutely and totally incorrect.”
On whether Mike Mayo’s accusations against Citigroup’s risk management lapses are accurate:
“Absolutely. In September of 2008, Citigroup was effectively bankrupt. The reason why it was bankrupt was the reason that Mike cites. It was that the risk management procedures had completely broken down and it was not effectively managing its portfolio. Mike is right on that comment.”
On why we should believe Citi on its accounting reports:
“We don’t have to take Citigroup’s answer to Mike Mayo. We can take a look at the fact that this company is audited by an exceptional group of auditors. They are regulated by a large number of bank regulators…and they actually are being audited for their tax issues right now by the IRS. All three of these groups agree with the public statements of Citigroup concerning DTAs.”
“What is the basis for saying that these three groups which have seen the numbers don’t know what they are talking about, whereas people that have not seen the numbers, do know what they are talking about.”
On whether Citi has been given a clean bill of health by the SEC, IRS and the Fed:
“We do have an audited financial statement which is not questioning the DTAs. We do have bank regulators who could have memorandums of understating with Citigroup if they believed there was a problem. Citi is estimated to earn by Mike Mayo $9 billion this year. Next year he estimates the company to show a 33 percent increase in earnings to $12 billion. If there is a DTA problem, why is there a belief that the company can jump its earnings by 33 percent from 2010 to 2011?”
We’ve been assured by the wonderful people at Fox that we will have video of this momentous (and perhaps unprecedented) occasion just as soon as it’s available.
UPDATE: AS WE SUSPECTED! Not only was the initial report mis-transcribed, check out Dick’s reaction to Gasparino’s question, “It’s KPMG I believe, correct?” around the 2:37 mark:
Pretty obvious that the dude has never heard of KPMG in his life.
Citigroup Blackballs Analyst Claiming the Bank’s DTAs Should Be Written Down
Fox Business Network’s ace news-breaker Charlie Gasparino reports that Citigroup’s management team, including CEO Vikram Pandit and CFO John Gerspach will not meet with CLSA banking analyst Mike Mayo since he’s been telling investors that the big C should be writing down their $50 billion in deferred tax assets.
Carlito reports that Mayo states that this refusal to write down the DTAs amounts to “cooking the books by inflating its earnings through an accounting gimmick.”
Simple question from Mayo via CG, “I’d like to know why all my competitors get meetings with Pandit and the key people there and I don’t.” It’s not like the guy is one of the top banking analysts in the entire world. It’s not like Citigroup has a solid track record of transparent financial reporting. Or did everyone forget that C has the U.S. Treasury as its backstop?
The KPMG audit team can weigh in on this at any time. Or just email us the details.
Charlie Gasparino: “As of right now” Erin Callan Won’t Be Charged By the SEC
But next Monday, Wednesday or post-Labor Day, it could be a completely different story!
We’re waiting on the video from our friends over at FBN but for now here’s what the Fox Business News Breaking specialist has for us:
On who from Lehman Brothers will be charged by the SEC:
“There is a lot of speculation as to who will be charged in the SEC’s investigation of Lehman Brothers. As of right now at least, it will not be the former CFO Erin Callan.”
On how we know Callan is not being charged:
“Attorney for Callan Robert Cleary tells FBN she has not received a Wells Notice. As of right now she is not going to get charged. It could still come.”
On when the charges will be filed:
“This is an interesting development because the end game on this is clearly happening. And it’s the two year anniversary of Lehman’s bankruptcy Callan was one of the people putting out the positive image of the firm as it was imploding that’s what they are investigating.”
So there you have it! Things are day-to-day for Ms Callan (i.e. kicking it in the Hamptons, dating a fire fighter). The situation remains fluid.
Charlie Gasparino Suggests That Erin Callan Should Be Shaking in Her Designer Boots
“At least part of it is focused on the March 2008 capital raise where they went out and did a preferred deal. Erin Callan made some very positive bullish statements about Lehman. About how the nature of its finances would mean that it did not need more capital and three months later Lehman Brothers needed more capital and then came the decline of the firm.”
~ The Fox Business Correspondent/Ace Reporter insists that an announcement is “imminent.” That’s what the rumor mill says anyway.
The PCAOB Is the Latest Headache for Ernst & Young
Charlie Gasparino is on E&Y like stink on a monkey this week. After reporting yesterday that the SEC may eventually get around to charging Dick Fuld and/or Ernst & Young for the accounting hijinks at Lehman Brothers, CG is now reporting that the PCAOB is asking all kinds of questions that E&Y would rather not answer.
Not exactly great news from CG so we emailed E&Y spokesman Charlie Perkins to see what’s what. He declined to comment and said the firm would not be releasing a statement related to this report.
We also called up the PCAOB to get their take and spoke with Colleen Brennan, Deputy of Director of Public Affairs, who said that the Board is prohibited from discussing these matters and provided us with the details:
The PCAOB cannot comment on whether it is investigating a particular registered accounting firm or a particular public company audit by a firm. The Board, however, takes all allegations of improper professional conduct by a registered public accounting firm seriously and considers all information relating to such allegations.
PCAOB investigations and contested contested disciplinary proceedings are confidential under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The PCAOB’s inventory of enforcement matters includes audits of all sizes and varying complexity, including matters related to audits by large firms for issuer audit clients involved in the financial crisis.
So no one is talking. Fine, we’ll just have to take Charlie at his word. What we do know is that if the Board does decide to lay the smackdown on E&Y, they’re going to tell the entire universe about it via its “Disciplinary Orders,” and as CG notes in his report, if the PCAOB does bring an action against E&Y it will be the highest profile enforcement action in its short history. Not exactly a BusinessWeek list.
SEC Might Bring Civil Charges Against Ernst & Young Soon, Maybe
Charlie Gasparino is reporting that the SEC probe in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy is “ramping up” and that the Commission is under hella-pressure to bring civil charges against Dick Fuld, Ernst & Young and whoever else is on the list.
It’s unclear if the SEC can muster the necessary proof to show that top executives like former CEO Richard Fuld or the firm’s outside auditor Ernst & Young intentionally misled investors about the health of Lehman’s balance sheet in the months before it filed for bankruptcy in mid-September 2008, according to people close to the probe…It’s unclear when any charges might be filed by the SEC, but people close to the inquiry say the SEC believes it does bring one, it must do so “very soon,” possibly within a few months given a combination of the outrage over the report’s findings and that Lehman’s bankruptcy is going on two years old.
Okay, so things are urgent but not that urgent. It’ll be Father’s Day maybe the 4th of July by the time we get a Mary Schapiro smackdown.
But that’s not all! Things are really serious at Ernst & Young now because Charlie reports that E&Y “has hired high-profile white-collar attorney William McLucas as its outside counsel in the matter, people close to the firm say. McLucas had been the SEC’s enforcement chief before entering private practice.” We checked with our friends over at ATL and it turns out that Mr McLucas is a partner at high-powered WilmerHale and was lead counsel to the special committee of the Enron Board that reported “hard-hitting findings” (sayeth he).
Since Mr McLucas doesn’t take shit from the likes of short-seller Jim Chanos, we’ll take Charlie’s word that things are pretty serious over at 5 Times Square.
E&Y spokesman Charlie Perkins declined to comment.
SEC Probe of Lehman Picking Up Steam [FBN]
Gasparino: SEC May Be Forced To Do Something About This Whole Lehman Thing [DB]