Mysteries

Why Did Prometric Get Fined $300,000 by NASBA in 2010?

David A. Costello, CPA, President & CEO and Michael R. Bryant, CPA, CFO of NASBA jointly and severally stated that NASBA’s 2010 financial statements did not contain any untrue material statements and their auditors, Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC seconded that so obviously the following is all accurate. We looked ourselves. Not being professional financial statement ninjas, however, we invite you to take a peek for yourself here.

The good news for NASBA is that total consolidated revenue in Fiscal 2010 was $33.7 million compared to $31.4 million in Fiscal 2009, an increase of 7.3%. There were more CPA exam candidates as well as a new state added to NASBA’s CPAES program, which does the work of state boards of accountancy by processing CPA exam applications.


Interestingly, though my grandparents have been eating Alpo for the last two years thanks to Ben Bernanke and I’m earning a little under half a percent on my savings, NASBA must have a good investment banker because they did pretty well for themselves in FY 10. The annual report states that revenue from escrow management fees related to the CPA exam increased over the prior year and that higher interest rates, on average, during FY 10 were earned on these funds which are held in fully-insured securities or interest-bearing accounts. Can someone please let me know where these accounts are?! I want in.

But the most interesting part of NASBA’s mostly dull financial statements is the $300,000 “fine” Prometric paid them for violating its CPA exam agreement. Yes, the same agreement that was just renewed through 2024 with much fanfare last year.

The item is reported as “Income from Contract Issue” on NASBA’s consolidated financial statements and buried in note 12 thusly:

Note 12. Income from Contract Issue
As a part of the initial CBT Services Agreement effective May 31, 2002, Prometric was required to obtain and maintain insurance policies for certain specific perils, coverage amounts, terms and conditions naming the Association and its member boards as additional insureds. During fiscal 2010, the Association asserted that Prometric failed to comply with certain applicable insurance requirements. Prometric denied the assertions but, in resolution of the matter, provided evidence that it had come into compliance, agreed to indemnify, hold harmless and defend for any coverage lapses, and paid $300,000 to the Association. In addition, Prometric reimbursed the Association for certain legal and administrative expenses related to the resolution.

It doesn’t appear that NASBA declared the legal and admin expenses it also received so we’re assuming they were either immaterial or just embarrassing. Any financial statement detectives are welcome to come to their own conclusions.

Why Did Dave & Buster’s Fire Ernst & Young?

Earlier in the month, adult playground company Dave & Buster’s filed an S-4 to register $200 million in senior notes. Everything seemed to be in order and the month of August just moseyed along as it does.

Until the 24th, when GOD KNOWS what happened and D&B’s audit committee up and fired E&Y. They then filed the amended S-4, letting the whole world know about it:

CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON
ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

On August 25, 2010, Ernst & Young, LLP (the “Former Auditors”) was dismissed as the Company’s independent auditors. The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of the Company approved their dismissal on August 24, 2010.

The Former Auditors’ audit report on the Company’s consolidated financial statements for each of the past two fiscal years did not contain an adverse opinion or disclaimer of opinion, and was not qualified or modified as to uncertainty, audit scope or accounting principles.

During the Company’s most recent two fiscal years and through the subsequent interim period on or prior to August 25, 2010, (a) there were no disagreements between the Company and the Former Auditors on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosure, or auditing scope or procedure, which disagreements, if not resolved to the satisfaction of the Former Auditors, would have caused the Former Auditors to make reference to the subject matter of the disagreement in connection with its report; and (b) no reportable events as set forth in Item 304(a)(1)(v)(A) through (D) of Regulation S-K have occurred.

Naturally, this invites rampant speculation as to the why, why and the why? It’s not the most high profile client on Earth but as Adrienne pointed out, Ernst & Young is now on a list with Vice-President Joe Biden and no one needs that.

Dave & Buster’s, Inc. Announces Dismissal of Independent Auditor [Business Newswire via JDA]

As Investigation Concludes, Allegations Against KB Home Remain Anyone’s Guess

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

Finally some good news for KB Home.

The homebuilder said the Securities and Exchange Commission has concluded its investigation into the company’s accounting and disclosures and does not plan to recommend any enforcement action. The letter from the regulator concludes the SEC’s investigation, which began in October 2009.

“We are pleased to announce that the SEC has concluded its investigation,” said Jeffrey Mezger, president and chief executive officer of KB Home, in a statement.

There are no details about the nature of the allegations.


Same was true in October 2009 when the company first announced in its quarterly report that the staff of the SEC notified the company that a formal order of investigation had been issued regarding possible accounting and disclosure issues. At the time, it stressed that the probe should not be construed as an indication by the SEC that there has been any violation of the federal securities laws.

And this is exactly how it turned out.

What were the allegations? What prompted the SEC to look into the matter? Was it a disgruntled whistle-blower?

The answers would be instructive to other companies that could wind up as targets of SEC probes. Guess we’ll never know.

The good news here is that the SEC informed the company that the investigation was closed. Sounds basic, right?

Believe it or not until a few years ago the regulator did not often communicate to companies under investigation that the probe was completed and that no further action would be taken, leaving the company hanging and suspicion hovering for all potential customers and investors to speculate.

Their attitude at the time was that as a policy, the Commission does not disclose the existence of an investigation in the first place, so it typically won’t announce that one has ended.

KB Home, however, is no stranger to controversy.

The company was embroiled in the options backdating scandal. In April, former chief executive officer Bruce Karatz was convicted by a federal jury of four felony counts, including two counts of mail fraud, one count of lying to company accountants and one count of making false statements in reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was acquitted on 16 other charges.

In September 2008, Karatz agreed to pay $7.2 million to settle civil charges for his role in the stock-option backdating scheme that benefitted himself and other KB Home officers and employees.

Last November, a Texas homeowner filed a class-action lawsuit today against KB Home, Countrywide Financial and LandSafe Appraisal Services, claiming the three conspired to rig housing prices in Texas and Colorado, costing home purchasers millions of dollars and pushing homeowners into dangerous loans.

Earlier, a lawsuit filed against the same parties alleged they fraudulently inflated sales prices of KB homes in Arizona and Nevada.

Facing Writs, Ex-Grant Thornton Partner Bolts Hong Kong

A former Grant Thornton partner in Hong Kong is facing two writs from clients that total $12.1 million, according to the Financial Times.

Gabriel Azedo was reported by Grant Thornton Hong Kong*, after the allegations were made, to the HK commercial crime bureau for ‘inappropriate’ conduct.


Of course, when we hear “inappropriate conduct” we automatically imagine something lewd but alas, it’s about money:

Angela Gardner, a Hong Kong resident, is suing Mr Azedo and Senning International, registered in the British Virgin Islands, for breach of contract and breach of trust and demanding $9.8m. Grant Thornton is not mentioned in this suit.

Arthur and Betty da Silva, prominent local racehorse owners, have filed a writ against Mr Azedo and Grant Thornton Hong Kong seeking an account of trust assets allegedly held on their behalf by the defendants.

Mr and Mrs da Silva are demanding the transfer of “all such trust property” to them or restitution of not less than $2.3m.

On October 20, GTI realized that this guy was a liability, reported him to HK Fuzz and promptly terminated their relationship with him. Gabe, “a pillar of the city’s financial establishment”, was on GT’s global leadership board as recently as October 21, although he had not technically been a partner in the firm since 2008.

Oh so mysterious, Mr. Azedo. What were you doing over there in HK? The FT, being the bastions of journalism that they are, tried reaching him for comment but sounds like he’s is on the lam.

Although it doesn’t seem to be much more than a headache for GT — for now — we’re happy to see something out of the firm aside from another visit from the press release elves.

Ex-Grant Thornton partner faces writs [FT]

*Everybody knows that the offices are independent of each other right? The global firm is just something they say. Sort of like “Global Six Accounting Firm”. Which, for the record, was not mentioned once in this article.