A few months ago, my boss sent me to a business conference to learn technical stuff but mostly to network. If someone had told me years ago how much networking and ass-kissing the accounting profession actually involves, maybe I would have rethought my career path and become a statistician or something. The only thing I […]
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.
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]
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?
~ 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.”
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]
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
We’re not quite as sure as others are that yesterday’s Supreme Court decision regarding SarbOx is so utterly meaningless regarding the future of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
Sure, the court said the law is still fully in effect, blah, blah, blah.
But letting the Securities and Exchange Commission fire PCAOB board members for any reason instead of “for cause” could easily subject the board to significantly more political influence.
While Floyd Norris says the commission is unlikely to fire anyone on the PCAOB, the fact is the has commission has thrown its weight around in similar fashion in the case of the Financial Accounting Standards Board when companies have complained to Washington about FASB’s accounting rule making.
What’s to stop them from complaining to the SEC that the PCAOB is being too hard on its auditors, and the SEC from succumbing to that pressure?
Much depends, of course, on who’s leading the commission. Mary Schapiro might not easily bend to the political winds, but her predecessor, Christopher Cox, clearly did just that in connection with FASB.
After all, when during a conference on accounting I asked Conrad Hewitt, the SEC’s last chief accountant under Cox, about the SEC’s threat to hold up approval of FASB’s budget unless it let the commission vet nominations to the board in advance, Hewitt said the SEC was acting properly in its heightened role as the FASB’s overseer under SarbOx.
Yet a FASB member privately insisted to me afterward that the SEC had no authority to do what it did.
And at another conference a few months later, I asked Hewitt what the White House was telling the SEC to do about exemptions for small companies from SarbOx’s requirements for internal controls, the infamous provision known as Section 404. At that, Hewitt, as somnolent a figure as ever occupied the job, sat up in his chair as if he’d just had a bucket of cold water thrown in his face, and insisted that the SEC was an independent agency.
But given what happened to Cox’s predecessor, William Donaldson, I think Hewitt’s reaction to this question was disingenuous.
And both of his answers help explain why the big argument on the court yesterday over the theory of “the unitary executive” and the ability of the president to fire “independent” agency personnel isn’t quite as irrelevant to the PCAOB’s future as most everyone else seems to think.
“The SEC’s efforts are, and will always be, a work in progress. We will continually refocus our energies as circumstances warrant, as new ideas are offered and considered, as we consider your opinions and suggestions. But the outlines are emerging, the colors are being filled in, and I am hopeful that a portrait of a financial marketplace more stable and efficient than the one we saw in 2008 is beginning to emerge.”
SEC Chair Mary Schapiro at CEO Quarterly Meeting of the Business Roundtable on the SEC’s ongoing efforts to color inside the lines. Apparently the Commission was free-handing all this time.
Earlier in the week we heard the devastating news that the FASB and IASB’s convergence efforts, despite a good hustle, would not meet the G20’s deadline of June 2011.
FASB Chairman Bob Herz indicated that this was a serious case of the Boards having bigger eyeshades than their double-entry stomachs could handle but he tried to squelch the disappointment by assuring everyone that the mission is not a failure and the Boards would “get most if not all of [the accounting standard proposals] done by the end of 2011.”
Roberto and IASB Chair Sir David Tweedie, feeling bad about how the whole thing turned out, decided to send a letter to the G20, presumably to keep them from getting their panties in knot:
It is expected that this action by the FASB and IASB will not negatively impact the Securities and Exchange Commission’s work plan, announced in February, to consider in 2011 whether and how to incorporate IFRS into the US financial system.
We appreciate the support of the G20 for the development of a single set of high quality global accounting standards. The two boards remain committed to achieving that objective. We shall continue to provide timely updates regarding our progress.
Ohhh, right. The SEC. What do they think about all this? Judging by Mary Schapiro’s attitude of “assuming completion of the convergence projects” as a precursor to IFRS, she’s totally cool with it, making her thoughts known in a statement yesterday:
The boards believe that the modified plan will contribute to increased quality in the standards because it provides additional time for stakeholders to thoroughly consider the proposals and give both boards quality feedback. I view this as time that is well invested.
Quality financial reporting standards established through an independent process are threshold criteria against which the Commission’s future consideration of the role of IFRS in the U.S. reporting system will be based. I foresee no reason that the adjustment to the targeted timeline for certain joint projects should impact the staff’s analyses under the Work Plan issued in February 2010, particularly when that adjustment is designed to enhance the quality of the standards. Indeed, focused efforts on those standards the boards consider highest priority for the improvement of U.S. GAAP and IFRS will facilitate the staff’s analyses.
Accordingly, I am confident that we continue to be on schedule for a Commission determination in 2011 about whether to incorporate IFRS into the financial reporting system for U.S. issuers.
In other words, no rush guys. Take it from Mary, this happens all the time.
SEC Shakes Down Banks on Repurchase Accounting [Compliance Week]
The SEC has received information from 19 “financial institutions” on their repurchase accounting that could help determine if the treatment at Lehman Brothers was ” an outlier in classifying asset repurchase agreements as sales even when those assets were destined to return to the balance sheet.”
Compliance Week reports that Steven Jacobs, associate chief accountant in the Division of Corporation Finance at the SEC said that the Commission wants companies (i.e. banks) to be more forthcoming in their disclosures, “In a situation like this,s a snapshot in time.” Disclosures should more clearly describe the company’s economic situation and its liquidity apart from the moment-in-time snapshot, he said. “I would be willing to bet companies would be more willing to do that if that position on the balance sheet didn’t look as good.”
2010 Gerald Loeb Award Finalists Announced by UCLA Anderson School of Management [UCLA]
Congratulations are due to our own Francine McKenna (look for her column later today) who was named as a finalist for a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism in the “Online Commentary and Blogging Category” for her work at re:The Auditors.
Other nominees include Adrian Wooldridge, Steven N. Kaplan, Nell Minow, Patrick Lane, Brad DeLong, Luigi Zingales, Saugato Datta, Thomas Picketty and Chris Edwards for “Online Debates” for The Economist; David Pogue for “Pogue’s Posts” for The New York Times; Jim Prevor for “Business, Finances and Public Policy” for The Weekly Standard.
Rewarding Failure [Portfolio.com]
The old idea of combining the SEC and the CFTC came up again last week and Gary Weiss thinks that it’s a terrible idea. Be that as it may, he thinks that it may “have some mileage” since some big names have recently come out to support the idea, including Mary Schapiro who was posed the question “can you explain any rational reason that both the CFTC and the SEC exist?”:
Schapiro’s response was wordy, but it boiled down to a qualified “yes.” If it were up to her, she said, there would be just one agency. Headed by her, I presume.
Evidently this seems to be a trend. Only about a week ago, the idea was endorsed by Arthur Levitt, the former head of the SEC. He told Barron’s that merging the two agencies is “so basic to any kind of regulatory reform, that to neglect that is really outrageous.”
Gary argues that an independent CFTC could “light a fire under a somnolent SEC” with the right leadership, although the current team doesn’t seem to be up for the job. If that continues, he adds, we could end up with one large(r) ineffective bureaucracy protecting the markets.
Pabst’s New Owner Built Fortune on Old Brands [WSJ]
The Journal has learned that Pabst is being purchased by investor C. Dean Metropoulos who has made a fortune in food branding. His past investments include Chef Boyardee, Duncan Hines and several others.
Pabst was up for sale after the IRS forced the sale by California-based Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation. The Foundation had owned the company for a decade, after the Service allowed a five year extension for the nonprofit to own a for-profit business.
Crisis Probes Fail to Meet High Bar [WSJ]
Late on Friday, former AIG executive Joseph Cassano learned that he wouldn’t face criminal charges for his actions as the head of the company’s Financial Products division. According to the Journal, prosecutors did come close to filing criminal charges against Cassano and others but it was felt that the high burden of proof that “there was criminal intent behind executives’ decisions and that they intentionally misled investors” could not be met.
The government isn’t quite finished with Cassano, as he still may face civil charges from the SEC, which has a lower standard of proof.
The SEC’s Mary Schapiro on the Myths of GAAP/IFRS Convergence: The Lady Doth Protest Too Much [Re:Balance]
Jim Peterson took a closer look at Mary Schaprio’s speech at the annual conference of Chartered Financial Analysts where she mentioned IFRS but also convergence efforts between the IASB and the FASB. The SEC has maintained that convergence should be the initial goal for reporting standards.
Jim is concerned that the gap between the ultimate goal of convergence and the reality of some of the key issues at stake are no small feat:
There is, indeed, no more eloquent concession of the “convergence gap” than Schapiro’s own admission that “US GAAP and IFRS are currently not converged in a number of key areas,” including “the accounting for financial assets (the very types of securities at the center of the financial crisis), revenue recognition, consolidation principles, and leases.”
Any other problems, Madame Chairman? These on her list are so comprehensively grave that they will keep the international standards standoff alive until the end of time.
Which would put IFRS on a even longer track to adoption.
IRS audits of schools might delve into salaries of coaches [USAToday]
The IRS’ interest in the determination of the highest paid employees for colleges and universities has a few people worried. Not necessarily because anything is wrong but because the IRS is just a scary beast, “John D. Colombo, a University of Illinois law professor who has written about tax exemption and college athletics, says he doesn’t think the IRS action will fundamentally alter college athletics business. But he adds, ‘Audits are never comfortable. Just the IRS being there asking questions makes people nervous.'”
Primarily, the IRS is concerned over the business activities that higher education institutions engage in that aren’t “related to the schools’ primary purpose.” The interest in athletic coaches’ salaries is such that these individuals are often some of the highest paid employees of the school. The IRS is interested in how colleges and universities justify these salaries and to ensure that corporate sponsorships (not considered to be a business activity) are complying with certain rules so they are not considered advertising revenue.
Mary Schapiro took some time out of her fraud fighting Friday to ask Kenneth Johnson to quit acting as the Commission’s CFO and to take on the official responsibility of running the Office of Financial Management.
Mr Johnson (KenJo?) vehemently accepted the offer and threw in a shout out to the boss, “I’m honored to accept this new role at such an important time for the agency. Chairman Schapiro is deeply committed to strong financial management, and I’m proud to lead the agency’s initiatives in this area.”
Presumably, the CFO position isn’t a kicking-down-doors type job so Johnson’s first order of business should be to determine the savings on a group rate at one porn site that can appropriate service all tastes.
Washington, D.C., May 21, 2010 — Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary L. Schapiro today announced that Kenneth A. Johnson has been named Chief Financial Officer for the agency.
Mr. Johnson has been serving as acting CFO for much of the past year. The agency’s CFO is responsible for leading its Office of Financial Management, which handles the budget, finance, and accounting operations for the SEC.
“I’m delighted that Ken has agreed to take on this role at the SEC,” said Chairman Schapiro. “His deep experience in the financial arena will be incredibly valuable as we grow as an agency.”
Mr. Johnson added, “I’m honored to accept this new role at such an important time for the agency. Chairman Schapiro is deeply committed to strong financial management, and I’m proud to lead the agency’s initiatives in this area.”
Mr. Johnson, 37, joined the SEC in 2003 as a Management Analyst in the Office of the Executive Director. In that role, he advised on all aspects of the budget process, developed strategy initiatives, and responded to inquiries from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Congress regarding the SEC’s budget and financial operations. He became Chief Management Analyst in 2006.
Mr. Johnson has served as a valuable staff expert on legislative proposals, and he managed the development of the SEC’s long-range Strategic Plan that would guide agency policy through 2015.
Prior to joining the SEC staff, Mr. Johnson worked as a Commerce Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. His primary responsibility in that role was to analyze and report on the budgetary effects of committee-approved legislation.
Mr. Johnson earned his Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and earned his BA at Stanford University.
“Swift and vigorous prosecution of those who have broken the law is at the heart of the agency’s efforts to restore investor confidence.”
– SEC Chair Mary Schapiro in testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee Wednesday defending the SEC’s request to be self-funded.
The SEC is interested in securing capital markets and protecting the interests of investors by putting a new level of priority on accounting standards setters… European accounting standards setters, that is.
SEC Chief Accountant James “P is For Principles” Kroeker announced today that the SEC’s new project will revolve around securing funding for the gatekeepers of IFRS, the IASB. “A stable broad based funding system with a diversity of capital market participants providing ‘no strings attached’ funding is of great importance to establishing a structurally sound international standards setter,” he said at a Baruch College accounting conference. Earlier in the week, JP was defending GAAP and calling the planned June 2011 adoption of IFRS in the US an “arbitrary” target but this leads us to believe that he’s since changed his mind and would like to see this convergence thing get rolling once and for all.
About 20 percent of the IASB’s funding is expected to come from US sources this year – the largest chunk of funding from any single source.
While Kroeker was busy cheerleading the IASB telethon this week, SEC Chair Mary Schapiro was off doing a little fundraising of her own, except hers failed miserably when the Senate rejected a request by Schapiro and several former SEC leaders to self-fund the agency. As everyone knows, the SEC has been plagued recently with accusations of regulatory laziness, not to mention problems with employees sitting around watching porn all day when they should be guarding capital markets. No increase in allowance for you, Mary!
Anyway, the main concern is – as always – independence. Without secure funding, the IASB is exposed to excessive political pressure and if you recall the fair value debate, you have already seen what happens when standards setters cave in. With secure funding, the IASB can be bought and sold as easily as some companies A/Rs so it makes sense that Kroeker would shift the SEC’s focus from begging Congress for a raise to funneling in cash to the IASB. You know, for convergence’s sake.
SEC Chairman: No Heads Up on Goldman Lawsuit [WSJ]
Mary Schapiro would like everyone to know that just because they laid the smackdown on Goldman Sachs last Friday instead of, say, last year is that A) she’s still new at this job and B) the SEC does (and most certainly does not) what it wants when it wants. Even if it is an election year, the POTUS and his agenda have nothing to do with it.
“I started this job 15 months ago, in the wake of a serious financial crisis and with the view that the SEC must regulate Wall Street and vigorously enforce the securities laws. We will neither bring cases, nor refrain from bringing them, because of the political consequences. We will be governed always and only by the facts and the law.”
Lipstick on the collar [NYP]
The Post is reporting that the Lipstick Building, where Bernie Madoff had his North Pole offices is sliding ever closer to foreclosure. The report states that the Royal Bank of Canada is looking to get rid of its $210 million mortgage on 885 Third Ave.
“[T]he Lipstick Building’s problems are the direct result of having been purchased at the height of the property boom. RBC’s $210 million loan was provided as part of a complex financing structure used by Israel’s Metropolitan Real Estate Investors — led by Haim Revah and Jacob Abikzer — to pay $648.5 million for the property in 2007.”
Feds launch inquiry into Florida GOP credit-card expenses [Miami Herald]
The IRS is poking around the credit card activity by some Florida Republicans including the leading contender for its U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio. The IRS has opened a “preliminary inquiry” to determine if there is enough evidence to launch a formal investigation.
The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times both obtained credit card statements of Mr Rubio that reportedly include, “repairs to the family minivan, grocery bills, plane tickets for his wife, and purchases from retailers ranging from a wine store near his home to Apple’s on-line store. Rubio also charged the party for dozens of meals during the annual lawmaking session in Tallahassee, even though he received taxpayer subsidies for his meals.”
Mr Rubio insists that there “absolutely nothing to this,” and that “We don’t believe it’s income,” which sounds like some famous last words prior to a full blown IRS investigation.
As fun as this must be for the SEC, for some reason there are a few people that would like to discuss the SEC’s reaction to a Ponzi scheme whose alleged perp will likely die awaiting trial.
Even though Mary Schapiro can’t believe this timing (!), fine, she’ll humor you. But don’t interrupt again. They are trying to God’s work (and maybe win over some voters).
The following is a statement from SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro regarding SEC Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Report 526 — “Investigation of the SEC’s Response to Concerns Regarding Robert Allen Stanford’s Alleged Ponzi Scheme”:
“This report recounts events that occurred at the Commission between 1997 and 2005. Since that time, much has changed and continues to change regarding the agency’s leadership, its internal procedures and its culture of collaboration. The report makes seven recommendations, most of which have been implemented since 2005. We will carefully analyze the report and implement any additional reforms as necessary for effective investor protection.”
In other words, “I’m turning this ship around, and most of your bullshit suggestions are already in place, so how about you take your light your OIG report on fire?”
• Another Key Departure at Overstock.com: It Went Unreported, Too [White Collar Fraud]
Criminal-turned-forensic sleuth Sam Antar is reporting on his blog that SEC problem child Overstock.com had another key employee depart the company but this time, the Company failed to report it publicly. Gary Weiss was tipped off about the departure of Richard Paongo, the former Treasurer at OSTK, in an anonymous post that was confirmed on