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SEC Asking FASB About Looking Into That MF Global Accounting Thingamajig

Because, you know, it’s sorta tricky and it didn’t really turn out so well for Corzine & Co.

The SEC is in talks with the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets accounting standards, about “repurchase-to- maturity” agreements that MF Global used in off-balance-sheet accounting, Schapiro said today during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington. “We are talking with FASB about whether we need more disclosure of those,” Schapiro said.

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) seems a little more urgent:

“How is it possible that someone is able to bet the farm here, multiple times, and it disappears from the balance sheet because of this repo-to-maturity technique?” asked Senator Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, noting that the technique made it appear as though the risk had been “sold.”

“That is a loophole so big you can drive a Mack truck through it,” Conrad said. “If that’s not closed, we should ask ourselves what we’re doing.”

I think we all know what a lot of people at the SEC are doing.

MF Global Accounting Technique Under Review, Schapiro Says [BBW]

Confidential to Sir David Tweedie: Mary Schapiro Isn’t Hearing Encouraging Words on IFRS

Speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s annual CFO Network meeting in Washington D.C., Schapiro readily admitted that there isn’t a big push from either multinationals or shareholders to move to international financial reporting standards.

In response to a question from Bank of America’s CFO, Chuck Noski, Schapiro said, “We have not heard from a lot of shareholders that we have to go (to IFRS). We’ve heard the contrary… ‘Why would we take this step toward international accounting standards?’” [CFOJ]

Mary Schapiro Wants Accountants to Get Better at Their Jobs

Did you work hard this past busy season? Did you toil away for hours and hours to provide exemplary client service? Did you take one for the team when that creeper client contact wanted to dance at the end-of-the-year party? Great. Well done, good and faithful capital market servant. But guess who still isn’t satisfied? The SEC Chair, Mary Schapiro. Why? Well, it’s becuase you’re still not meeting investors expectations and the SEC is hearing about it. Everyone is demanding the best and you’re simply not cutting it right now.

“At the SEC, we have heard from investors that they are not as confident as they could be, and they have areas in which we all could expect more from accountants, from accounting standards, from regulators and from those who provide assurance through the audit process,” she said. “I believe that, when your customer asks for more, especially after the challenges of recent years, you need to listen.”

So maybe this is what KPMG is talking about when they say things are going to the next level?

SEC’s Schapiro Says Investors Expect More from Accountants [AT]

SEC Officially Falls Victim to PwC’s Competitive Poaching Strategy

~ Tell Kayla I’m sorry for butchering her last name for over two hours. It’s fixed now.

PwC has announced the appointment of Kayla Gillan, formerly SEC Chair Mary Schapiro’s Deputy Chief of Staff, as the firm’s head of the newly created Regulatory Relations Group. This confirms a report by Bloomberg from last week.

Ms Gillan is no lightweight as she is a founding member of the PCAOB, served as general counsel for CalPERS and Chief Administrative Officer for Risk Metrics. The ecstatic Bob Moritz: “[PwC is] extremely fortunate to gain the experience, insights and future contributions of such a highly accomplished professional, one whose career has been dedicated to serving investors and other market participants,” BoMo said, adding, “Kayla Gillan is an example of making the investment to drive this transformation.”

It’s been a busy spring for PwC landing and announcing new appointments of partners and principals starting back in February and continuing through the spring.

[via PwC]

SEC Whistleblower Program Not Exactly Knocking Anyone’s Socks Off

The corporate watchdog has received just 168 complaints alleging corporate fraud in the first 6½ months of the program’s existence, according to data the SEC provided to The Post through a Freedom of Information Act request. The tally is from July 22, 2010, when the program was launched, through Feb. 2, 2011. At that rate, the SEC is receiving less than one tip a day — hardly the flood that led the agency to delay staffing the program while it pleaded with lawmakers for more funding. [NYP]

IFRS: Four. More. Years.

Comments reflected “a lot of unanimity around, if we go in this direction, allowing sufficient time for companies to adjust,” said Schapiro in a question-and-answer session following her keynote address to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ national conference on accounting and auditing issues for public companies. “It’s likely to be a minimum of four years,” but that’s still a point for the SEC to decide, she said, assuming it decides to incorporate IFRS into U.S. capital markets. [Compliance Week]

Accounting News Roundup: Herz Departure Is a Gift for Banks; American Apparel Blames Deloitte for Late Filings; Your Commute Isn’t That Bad | 08.25.10

Herz Leaving Marks Boon for Banks [WSJ]
“A new front has opened up in the war over mark-to-market accounting. Suddenly banks find themselves with an unexpected advantage in the fight over how they should value their vast holdings of financial instruments.

Trprise announcement Tuesday of the departure of Robert Herz as chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. This will give banks an opportunity to push for a successor who is more friendly to their views on the mark-to-market question, as well as the overall idea that accounting should be for more than just investors.”

Former Chief Accounting Officer for Beazer Homes USA, Inc. Indicted on 11 Criminal Counts [FBI]
Michael Rand didn’t have a very good day yesterday.

Block ramped up federal lobbying efforts in second quarter, report says [AP]
H&RB lobbied their asses off from April to June spending $500k talking the ears off at the IRS, Treasury and SEC.

American Apparel Works To File Late 10-Q Before Nov 15 [Dow Jones]
The NYSE has put Dov & Co. on notice that they best get their act together if they don’t want to be sent slumming with the pink sheets. The company is promising to pull things together and if it weren’t for Deloitte quitting, everything would be a-okay.

Fact Checking Minority Leader Boehner’s Claims on “Small Business” and the “Bush” Tax Cuts [Tax Foundation]
In case you didn’t hear, John Boehner suggested that the President fire his entire economic team. Boehner is of the opinion that letting the tax cuts expire will hurt small businesses, citing the Joint Tax Committee. Tax Foundation takes exception with this, saying that the Ohio Congressman and House Minority Leader is misrepresenting the findings of the JTC:

“First off, the businesses that JCT is referring to are not necessarily ‘small.’ Saying the word ‘small business’ sounds good to the electorate because it brings up an image of a mom and pop store on Main Street America. But plenty of large businesses, as defined by net income or gross receipts, file their taxes under the individual income tax as opposed to the corporate income tax. Merely because a business is paying individual income taxes as opposed to corporate taxes does not mean it is ‘small.’ “


Statement From Chairman Schapiro on Financial Accounting Foundation Developments [SEC]
“I commend the Financial Accounting Foundation for its ongoing efforts to evaluate and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the structure and operation of the Financial Accounting Standards Board by increasing the size of the Board. The Foundation has determined that this revised structure will facilitate the continuing efforts of the FASB to work with the International Accounting Standards Board on their important convergence work plan. In addition, this should enhance the ability of the FASB to address issues facing the U.S. capital markets and the needs of investors.

“I also would like to commend FASB Chairman Robert Herz for his more than eight years of service. During his tenure, Chairman Herz has served as an effective investor advocate to improve the quality of financial reporting standards around the world. I welcome the appointment of Leslie Seidman as Acting Chairman. During this interim period, I look forward to working with Acting Chairman Leslie Seidman and the FASB as they continue their important work.”

Twenty something day-trader nailed with $172M bill in back taxes, asks ‘What’s the IRS?’ [NYDN]
How does a barely surviving Spaniard end up owing over $170 million to the IRS? For starters, he really doesn’t owe the Service the money. The problem arose because he didn’t file a tax return for one year that he spent day trading. The Service concluded that he made $500 million.

China Traffic Jam Could Last Weeks [WSJ]
Today, be thankful for your commute. No matter how bad it was, at least the drive/ride ended.

Got Thoughts on Dodd-Frank?

No, Dodd’s hair and Barney’s thriftiness are not at issue here.

Mary Schapiro needs constructive comments from the peanut gallery because this thing is a week old and since some people at the Commission have the attention of Tom Petters, they can’t afford to lose focus.

Just jump over the Public Comments page and let ‘er rip. Any section you want get down with your wonky financial reform knowledge is welcome.

It has not even been a week since the President signed the regulatory reform legislation into law, but at the SEC we are already working to fully implement the dozens of studies and rulemakings required of our agency,” said Chairman Schapiro. “We recognize that the process of establishing regulations works best when all stakeholders are engaged and contribute their combined talents and experiences. We look forward to preliminary public comments in these areas.

Not only that! The SEC needs more people. This 2,000-some odd page behemoth is putting asses in cubes and more of the kicking ass and taking names will be had. Just two ways you can join the good times going on at the SEC.

SEC Chairman Schapiro Announces Open Process for Regulatory Reform Rulemaking [SEC]

Who Should the Next PCAOB Members Be?

Since the PCAOB is here to stay, the SEC figured it was probably best that they get some people sit on this thing to, ya know, help protect the investors, the public at large, so on and so forth.

The problem, as it appears to us, is that Mary Schapiro and the gang are plumb out of ideas for nominations. Accordingly, they’re out there looking for help from some of the best and beardest, including the Beard, acting PCAOB chair Dan Goelzer, AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon and a few other noted notables.


However! Just because Mary Schapiro sent these people personal letters begging for some ideas, that doesn’t mean she won’t listen to yours. You can fire any names you have in mind to [email protected]. The Commission appreciates the help.

The SEC does point out that the appointees need to be “prominent individuals of integrity and reputation who have a demonstrated commitment to the interests of investors and the public, and an understanding of the responsibilities for and nature of the financial disclosures required of issuers under the securities laws and the obligations of accountants with respect to the preparation and issuance of audit reports with respect to such disclosures,” but we feel that’s subject to interpretation.

Hopefully the noms will include a few wild cards that could stir things up a bit. Sam Antar comes to mind, although the criminal record could be a bit of a problem. Francine might be up for it? We haven’t asked her yet, just throwing it out there. More suggestions welcome.

Spotlight on PCAOB Nomination Process [SEC]

Is Mary Schapiro Talking About a Certain Lehman Brothers Auditor?

Maybe! After last week’s settlement with Team Jehovah and the financial reform bill allowing for a few more hands on deck, the SEC chair says there are some other smackdowns in the works.

Unfortunately she doesn’t name names but use your imagination:

“We have investigations in the pipeline, across products, across institutions, coming out of the financial crisis,” SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said after testifying before a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing.

Asked if the bulk of the cases have already been brought to light, she said: “Not necessarily, not necessarily.”

So it’s a grab bag really. Although, as you may recall, Dick Fuld is on the record that E&Y was on board with whatever the dorks in accounting were doing. Or maybe MS is just messing with Congress. The situation remains fluid.

SEC chairman says more post-crisis cases in pipeline [Reuters]

Despite Big Name Supporters, SEC Self-funding Falls By the Wayside

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

As President Obama gearsng financial regulatory bill, one little discussed but important potential provision that did not survive the final version would have provided for self-funding by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This is a policy advocated by people like New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Barney Frank as well as SEC chairman Mary Schapiro. It would enable the agency to use some or all of the fees and/or fines it collects to pay its bills.


In fact, other financial regulators are currently self-funded, including the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz points out that a proposal that the SEC should be able to fund itself based on the fees it collects was ultimately rejected. Instead, the conferees agreed that the SEC should continue to be subject to the Congressional appropriations process, and provided for certain baseline appropriations through 2015, according to the law firm. It adds that the proposed Act also requires the White House to submit unaltered to Congress the SEC’s annual budget, and establishes a $100 million reserve fund.

This is a controversial issue and current and past commissioners are divided over whether this is a good idea.

Opponents say self-funding would create a conflict of interest because it would increase the SEC’s incentive to seek the largest possible fines. Former commissioner Luis Aguilar, who supports self-funding, is sensitive to these concerns. So, he supported self funding, but only based on fees and registrations, not fines.

He had pointed out that the 2010 budget of slightly more than $1 billion is well below the $1.4 billion or so the SEC figures to bring in from those fee sources. Self-funding could also enable the SEC to attract better candidates by increasing the pay scale, something Representative Frank says he supports.

One former chairman told me last year he doubts Congress would go along with self-funding. He asserts the system of campaign finance has given the business community leverage over Congress, whose main lever of control over the SEC is its budget. “When big patrons come to see them and say stop the SEC, the power of the purse is critical to them,” the former chairman insists.

Back in June, 40 prominent securities lawyers fired off a letter asserting that a self-financed SEC “is one of the most important parts of the financial services reform legislation presently before you.”

They pointed out that from 2005 to 2009, the SEC collected about $7.4 billion from transaction and registration fees, which were turned over to the government, but Congress appropriated just $4.5 billion for the agency’s budget during that period. “The chronic under-funding of the SEC has severely impeded the SEC’s ability to keep pace with market and technology changes,” the lawyers stated. “After shrinking in size for a number of years, the SEC is only now beginning to grow again. Meanwhile, the securities industry and corporate activities it regulates have grown tremendously in size and sophistication over the last two decades.”

They noted that between 2004 and 2007 SEC enforcement and examination staff declined 10 percent and its information technology initiatives plunged 50 percent, while at the same time, trading volume doubled, the number of investment advisers jumped 50 percent and the funds they manage grew almost 60 percent.

In a speech in June, Schapiro insisted that self funding ensures independence, facilitates long-term planning, and closes the resource gap between the agency and the entities the SEC regulate. “In the process, it allows the SEC to better protect millions of investors whose savings are at stake,” she added.

Self funding also ensures an SEC that is more effective at identifying and addressing the kinds of risk that dealt a significant blow to the American economy, she told her audience.

Schapiro pointed out that in the immediate post-Enron era, the SEC saw significant increases in its budget. But funding dropped just as markets were growing in size and complexity. At the height of the pre-financial crisis frenzy, Schapiro added, the SEC was actually forced to reduce staff. “Only now can we afford to begin to develop the new technology that will allow us to evaluate, store and retrieve the kind of tip information that might stop the next major fraud,” she said.

Schapiro said self funding would have many benefits for investors: It would allow the SEC to increase its professional and technical capacity, to keep up with the financial industry’s rapid growth; It would enhance our long-term planning process, allowing the SEC to address the increasingly sophisticated technologies, products, and trading strategies adopted by the financial services industry; and, It would provide the flexibility to react to developing risks in the same way that our domestic and foreign counterparts did during the recent financial crisis, with rapid staffing and strategic responses that help control systemic damage.

She added: “To truly protect investors to the best of their abilities, they need the independence, planning ability and resources that self funding provides.”