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November 23, 2022

Oil spill

Accounting News Roundup: Insurance Accounting Is IASB’s Latest Puzzle; Former Deloitte CEO Catches a Keeper; Small Businesses Using Foursquare for Cheap Marketing | 08.04.10

IASB proposals aim to demystify insurance accounting [Accountancy Age]
“The international accounting standard setter has released new proposals for insurance contracts which seek to demystify one of the most complex areas of company reporting.

The rules, announced yesterday, aim to transform current rules, said to be all but indecipherable for investors, to a model which helps to communicate the contract economics.”

‘Static Kill’ Appears to Be Working in Well, BP Says [NYT]
“BP said Wednesday it had brought pressure under control in its stricken well in ther pumping heavy drilling mud into it, calling the development a “significant milestone” in its efforts to permanently seal the well.

The company began the effort, known as a static kill, on Tuesday afternoon and stopped pumping the heavy mud after about eight hours, saying that the procedure appeared to have reached the “desired outcome” of controlling pressure in the well.”

American Accounting Association and AICPA Create Pathways Commission to Study the Future of Accounting Higher Education [PR Newswire]
“The American Accounting Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants together have formed the Pathways Commission to study possible future paths of higher education for those seeking entry into the accounting profession.

‘Interest in accounting as a career is the highest it’s ever been and underscores the need to make sure the educational infrastructure remains solid and able to meet the profession’s evolving requirements,’ said Barry Melancon, CPA, AICPA president and CEO, who served on the Human Capital Subcommittee of the U.S. Treasury Advisory Committee on the Audit Profession.”

Catch of the day: ESPN sells fishing organization [Bloomberg]
Apparently a former Deloitte CEO – Jim Copeland – is involved in a group buying the BASS fishing organization.


From Playboy to Biglaw: New Orrick CFO Has A Bitchin’ Resume [ATL]
A former Playboy CFO recently joined Biglaw firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, presumably because access to a nice grotto is a must.

Getting Customers to ‘Check In’ With Foursquare [WSJ]
“Businesses of all sizes are trying the services out, looking to tap the networks’ ever-growing fan bases—Foursquare alone has 2.4 million users globally, and is growing 30% to 40% a month—and ability to harness enthusiasm for local establishments. For a small company with a limited marketing budget, the services are attractive because they’re free or cheap, require minimal time and effort, and appeal to loyal consumers who favor local businesses over big, cookie-cutter chains.”

Another Question about Timing of NBTY Insider Stock Purchases Prior to Announcement of Carlyle Acquisition [White Collar Fraud]
Sam Antar is still a little suspicious about the timing of the two NBTY directors that purchased stock right around the time that the Carlyle Group agreed to purchase NBTY stock. According to filings, NBTY executives met with Carlyle on May 11th and the two directors in question purchased their shares on May 13th and 18th. The next regularly scheduled board meeting was on May 21st.

Soooo, Sam wonders aloud, “At what point in time did Ashner and White know anything about the discussions with Carlyle and when did they find out about the confidentiality agreement? Often, such agreements are executed after the board has been notified. In this case, the confidentiality agreement was signed before Ashner and White purchased their NBTY shares.”

At Work, a Drug Dilemma [WSJ]
Even if you are legally able to purchase pot for medicinal purposes, your employer may still prefer you to pass on grass.

Accounting News Roundup: Auditors ‘Portray Worrying Lack of Skepticism’; Are Tax Strategies Patentable?; Method Man Pleads Guilty, Cuts Check for NYC Tax Evasion | 06.29.10

FSA accuse auditors of failing to question management bias [Accountancy Age]
The Financial Services Authority has decided that it was about time it called out a few people, “Auditors have become yes men who don’t adequately question management bias according to concerns raised by the UK’s chief financial regulators. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Financial Reporting Council today released a scathing discussion paper into the profession following concerns raised in the wake of the financial crisis. Among its concerns is that auditors ‘portrays a worrying lack of skepticism’ when scrutinising potential management bias.”

Not onlef=”http://www.accountancyage.com/accountancyage/news/2265630/fsa-audit-report-regulator”>FSA wants new enforcement powers including the ability to ” fine, censure or disqualify audit firms.” The FSA also wants to meet with auditors several times a year, rather than just once, as well as direct access to audit committees.

Alex to Become Hurricane as Swells Reach Gulf Spill [Bloomberg]
“Tropical Storm Alex, the first named system of the Atlantic hurricane season, strengthened today, forcing the evacuation of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and pushing swells toward the worst U.S. oil spill.

The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles (110 kilometers) per hour, was 460 miles southeast of Brownsville, Texas, before dawn today, moving north-northwest at 8 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. The circulating winds were near reaching hurricane status of 74 mph.”

New York state may tax out-of-state hedge fund execs [Reuters]
Desperate idea of the day from the brain trust in Albany, “Recession-hit New York could raise an extra $50 million a year by collecting income taxes from people who work for hedge funds in the state but live elsewhere, according to a legislative plan to raise revenue…A spokesman for Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said by telephone on Monday that it means hedge fund managers would be treated the same way as other commuters.”


Aprill: The Impact of Bilski on Tax Strategy Patents [TaxProf Blog]
In non-PCAOB SCOTUS news, the decision in Bilski v. Kappos addressing “Whether a ‘process’ must be tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or transform a particular article into a different state or thing (‘machine-or-transformation’ test), to be eligible for patenting….” was examined by Ellen P. Aprill of Loyola-L.A. regarding the impact on tax strategy patents:

“Bilski is at best a mixed bag for those who think tax strategies should be patentable. It gives little help and does allow business method patents, albeit somewhat begrudgingly. It demonstrates that for those who believe that tax strategies should not be patented, legislation is needed.”

Method Man pleads guilty to NYC tax-evasion charge [AP]
“Hip-hop star Method Man pleaded guilty to a tax-evasion charge Monday, writing a check on the spot for the final $40,000 restitution payment after owing about $106,000.” What, no cash?

U.S. Court to Hear Janus Appeal In Securities Case [Reuters]
“The lawsuit, brought on behalf of those who bought Janus stock from mid-2000 through early September 2003, alleged that the prospectuses of several of Janus funds created the misleading impression that the company would adopt measures to curb market timing, when in fact secret arrangements with several hedge funds permitted such transactions, to the detriment of long-term investors.”

Transocean Saved Billions in Taxes by Moving Legal Domicile Offshore

While BP continues to get murdered in the press for its role in the Deepwater Horizon nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico, we bring you a new reason to hate on another big player in this mess, Transocean. Martin Sullivan writes in Tax Analysts’ Tax Notes about the billions in taxes Transocean has managed to avoid since moving its domicile offshore – first to the Cayman Islands and then to Switzerland.

For those of you not completely up-to-speed on your Deepwater Horizon cast of baddies, Transocean was the owner and operator of the De BP was the project operator (think of a general contractor) of the rig, paying Transocean $500,000 a day to drill the well.


Sullivan writes in his piece that despite Transocean being legally domiciled in Zug, Switzerland, (a transaction known as an inversion or corporate expatriation) it really does very little to change the substance of the company’s operations, “These tax-motivated restructurings occur with little or no real change in day-to-day business operations. Top executives, key personnel, and all significant business operations in the United States before the transaction remain in
the United States.”

The transactions were controversial to be sure, and companies that engaged in them were likened to Benedict Arnold by politicians when the came under fire back in the early Aughts. To get an idea of Transocean’s savings, Mr Sullivan presents data that shows the company’s preinversion average effective tax rate of 31.6% and its postinversion tax rate of 16.9%. This saved the company just over $1.8 billion in taxes over the last ten years.

Transocean consummated their inversion back in 1999, so they were far ahead of the curve, as the tax benefits for inversions were stripped out in the code effective for transactions that occurred after March 4, 2003 but the savings have added up over the years as the company saved over $750 million just last year.

But Transocean has largely stayed out of the spotlight in this whole shitshow and has been in CYA mode virtually the whole time, consistently citing an indemnification agreement with BP, filing to limit its liability:

As set forth under Federal Law, the complaint also asks that the companies be judged not liable on claims for certain, defined losses or damages relating to the casualty or, if they are judged to be liable, that the liability for such claims be limited to the value of their interest in the Deepwater Horizon rig and its freight including the accounts receivable and accrued accounts receivable as of April 28, 2010. The petitioners assert in the filing that the entire value of their interest does not exceed $26,764,083.

And scoffing at any notion of not paying its dividend, reminding everyone that they declared it long before explosion on the rig they were operating, “Transocean will honor all of its legal obligations arising from the Deepwater Horizon accident. The dividend proposal was announced on February 16, 2010, described in the preliminary proxy statement which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 1, 2010, and approved by shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting on May 14, 2010.”

Throw the decade or so of tax savings and it sounds like Transocean has it made in the shade. How’s that for corporate responsibility and accountability? It’s not like we’re dealing the largest environmental disaster ever.

Transocean: Better at Tax Planning Than Oil Drilling [TaxProf]