As EY continues to hammer out the details of the audit and consulting split, PwC has set its sights on adding EY partners to The New Equation. Lots of EY partners. In October, PwC Global Chairman and 2012 Going Concern Hottest Accounting Firm Leader winner Bob Moritz told the Financial Times in no uncertain terms […]
In its ongoing effort to tell audit firms that it means business this time for real, the PCAOB is reminding firms that local affiliates will be held to the same standards as the U.S. firms they are affiliated with. Said PCAOB Chair Erica Williams to the Financial Times: “[Global audit firms] know that we are […]
As some of you may know, I love a good conspiracy. I love getting lost in bizarre corners of YouTube populated with bad Movie Maker “documentaries” about government experiments gone awry, celebrity cloning programs, and CIA mind control. I draw the line at lizard people; lizard people are just stupid. Obviously I realize most of these are […]
Here's a weird one: A New Jersey man has been charged with threatening now-former President Obama's life on Facebook. A report in the Philadelphia Inquirer has the details: Federal prosecutors say William Peterman Jr., 33, of Medford Lakes and Beaufort, S.C., posted two death threats on his Facebook page last week, including one addressed to […]
To capture the spirit of St. Patty’s day, let’s discuss a cunning technique that nefarious leprechauns use to steal your pot of gold: cyber extortion. Boiled down, cyber extortion is an age-old blackmail scheme with a digital twist. It starts with an unlucky target, such as a database housing sensitive information. A leprechaun (read: hacker) […]
The IRS has heard from the AICPA before on its plan for voluntary tax preparer registration, and that first note wasn't very nice. That first warning was basically a fish head left on the IRS' doorstep, but apparently they didn't get the message. The AICPA is back with an even more strongly-worded letter, this time […]
While many of us were running off for a 3 day weekend, one Andrew A. Calcione of Rhode Island was found guilty in U.S. District Court of one count each of threatening to assault and murder an IRS revenue agent and threatening to assault and murder the agent’s family. Chief Judge William E. Smith delivered […]
Everyone in the know knows that coming at Francine McKenna is generally not a good idea. Not only will she reduce you to a sniveling pile of human waste, she'll use your carcass to mop up your tears and then tell the Internet all about how she made you cry and send you a dry […]
Oh, Maryland, you're so funny: Members of the Maryland House of Delegates are still stewing over a threat from the “House of Cards” producers to leave the state if they don’t get millions more dollars in tax credits. So on Thursday afternoon, delegates issued a threat of their own: Sure, go ahead, leave this beautiful […]
The foot-dragging by the SEC over IFRS is a sight to behold. At some point in time – the Triassic Period, or thereabouts – the G20 requested "key global accounting standards bodies [to] work intensively toward the objective of creating a single high-quality global standard." And yet on Friday, the SEC served up a steaming pile of […]
In the Bronx, no less.
According to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, Charles prepared tax returns at a tax preparation business called “420 Multiservices” in Bronx, N.Y., in 2006. Between 2006 and 2007, Charles, 34, Patterson, 29, Nekiya Edwards, 32, and Akmell Edwards, 33, engaged in a scheme to use stolen and other identification information, including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, to file fraudulent tax returns.
According to the indictment, in March 2008, Patterson was approached by agents of the IRS-CID. During that encounter, Patterson threatened the agents, stating, among other things, “I know you guys got guns, so what,” and “That’s why I kill guys like you.”
Some clients treat their auditors like dirt. Given. To these haters, the financial statement audit is an onerous task that is mandated by the SEC and it amounts to an assault on liberty, capitalism and Ayn Rand’s genius. Accordingly, some clients try to push auditors around because typically they can. Today we bring you a rare example of a pushy-ass client going too far and an auditor standing up for themselves.
Ernst & Young resigned at the auditor of Life Partners Holdings Inc. in a letter dated June 6, 2011 after the CEO, Brian Pardo, WROTE IN A MEMO that he would “take action” against the firm if they did not sign off on the financial statemen t committee got wind of this little soapbox moment and promptly told E&Y about it.
From the 8-K Filing:
On June 6, 2011, Life Partners Holdings, Inc. (“we” or “Life Partners”) received a letter from Ernst & Young LLP (“Ernst & Young”) addressed to the Chairman of our Audit Committee (the “Resignation Letter”) confirming that it had resigned effective June 3, 2011, as our independent registered public accounting firm, as had been orally communicated to the Chairman of the Audit Committee on June 3, 2011. The resignation means that Ernst & Young will not certify our financial statements for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2011 (“Fiscal 2011”), which is necessary for completing and filing our Annual Report on Form 10-K for Fiscal 2011 (the “2011 Annual Report”).
The resignation follows a letter from Mr. Brian Pardo, our Chairman and CEO, to our licensee network (persons who refer purchasers to us) commenting upon the delayed filing of our 2011 Annual Report. The letter stated that it was Mr. Pardo’s position that we would “take action” against Ernst & Young if it did not promptly complete its audit and sign off on our financial statements without adjustment. Our Audit Committee wrote to Ernst & Young disclaiming the letter’s statements and asserting that the letter did not speak for the Audit Committee. Notwithstanding the Audit Committee’s disclaimer, Ernst & Young stated that the letter compromised its independence, and when considered with other recent developments, that it was no longer able to rely upon management’s representations, and that it was unwilling to be associated with the financial statements prepared by management.
Just for good measure, E&Y also stated that the company’s revenue recognition policy sucks, needs revised and they pulled their unqualified opinion over the 2010 financial statements. How’s that for “action”?
As noted by the first comment below, the second comment on a post over at Deal Journal has what appears to be the memo in question from Brian Pardo.
Message From Brian Pardo
Yesterday we filed for an extension of the time to file our annual10K which should have been filed by May 15th because the Auditors have not yet completed their part. Quite frankly I am confident that the SEC is interfering with us by trying to unnerve the Auditors (by asking frivolous questions) which has added to the delay in getting out the 10K which is done and ready to release. They are trying to force us to “restate” our revenue recognition criteria; one that has been in use for ten years now.
Restating for any period, for any reason is viewed by the market as an implicit admission that prior quarters were probably misstated, which they were not. We do expect to file shortly, but the WSJ called last night to print another negative article.
There is no reason to restate because any proposed adjustment is immaterial under GAAP guidelines. E&Y signed off on our revenue recognition criteria policy last year and every other audit firm has as well since we went public in 2000. However some of your clients will probably read about it in the WSJ or in some other supposedly legitimate news media. And, the shorts will no doubt make a big deal about it.
My position is we either ratify the 10k as is very soon or we will take action against E&Y as well as with the SEC in Washington. It is time to put an end to this nonsense! I believe E&Y is trying to mitigate problems they may have with the SEC at our expense. For instance, we were never told by E&Y that they audited at least one large organization in the Madoff matter.
We are well within GAAP boundaries regarding every of aspect of our financial statements including all materials created, used or reviewed in relation to our published financial statements. We have ten years of doing this the exact same way and every Auditor from every firm for the entire time has signed off on every single 10k over those last 10 years.
Brian D. Pardo
PS You are authorized to share my statement with concerned clients and Licensees, but, not the press although the matter is in the public domain now.
Besides bomb threats, another sign that the traditional tax season is in full swing is when an IRS office receives an envelope containing white powder. Today, the location in Holtsville, NY got the pleasure.
Nearly 60 workers at an Internal Revenue Service office on eastern Long Island were briefly evacuated after an employee opened an envelope containing a suspicious powder. An IRS spokeswoman says the substance was later determined to be baking soda.
No injuries were reported and it was less than hour before everyone was back to work, which barely enough time to get a bagel and a second cup of coffee. It makes us wonder if any IRS employees secretly wish for a dangerous substance to come in the mail to get out work. Day after day thinking, “God, this is awful. Maybe some anthrax will show up today. Am I that lucky? Probably not. But maybe if I concentrate real hard some will show up. [closes eyes, folds hands] Come on, anthrax. Just this once. Come on anthrax.”
As we mentioned this morning, t wn to brass tacks on these repurchase agreements that have captivated the entire financial world. Maybe “captivated” is overstating it but there’s been no shortage of commentary out there blaming Lehman’s shifty accounting ways for nearly ending the entire world as we know it.
The SEC let Lehman Brothers and Ernst & Young take their public beatings but now they’re moving on. The Commish’s Division of Corporation Finance sent out the following letter to “certain public companies” (aka banks) this month in order to get the scoop on their repos.
Furthermore, you should probably take this letter as a good indication of how the SEC feels about them in general, sayeth Edith Orenstein, ” would suggest companies, auditors, legal counsel, and audit committees consider such “Dear CFO” letters as illustrative of the SEC’s general view on accounting and disclosure matters for the issue(s) addressed in the letter.”
Oh yeah, about that letter. It’s long and has plenty of standard SEC vernacular so we’ll give you the abbreviated version (although the full thing appears below for you sickos).
“For those repurchase agreements you account for as collateralized financings, please quantify the average quarterly balance for each of the past three years. In addition, quantify the period end balance for each of those quarters and the maximum balance at any month-end. Explain the causes and business reasons for significant variances among these amounts.”
Translation: “Listen you shifty bastards, we know you move that sh*t off the books right before the end of the quarter. You won’t be able to hide it when we ask you for the averages.”
“[I]f you accounted for repurchase agreements, securities lending transactions, or other transactions involving the transfer of financial assets with an obligation to repurchase the transferred assets as sales and did not provide disclosure of those transactions in your Management’s Discussion and Analysis, please advise us of the basis for your conclusion that disclosure was not necessary and describe the process you undertook to reach that conclusion.”
Translation: “We’re guessing you didn’t tell anyone that you were parking a bunch of capital sucking crap off your books in your MD&A. If that’s the case, you get to explain to us, in excruciating detail, how you came to that asinine conclusion.”
If the Commission isn’t satisfied, it’s likely that the next step will be an interrogation in a poorly lit room. When your handlers leave, an incessant buzzing sound will commence until you soil yourself. Then they’ll try asking you again. Keep your fingers crossed that you don’t get a letter.
Dear Chief Financial Officer:
We are currently reviewing your Form 10-K for fiscal year ended ______. In our effort to better understand the decisions you made in determining the accounting for certain of your repurchase agreements, securities lending transactions, or other transactions involving the transfer of financial assets with an obligation to repurchase the transferred assets, we ask that you provide us with information relating to those decisions and your disclosure.
With regard to your repurchase agreements, please tell us whether you account for any of those agreements as sales for accounting purposes in your financial statements. If you do, we ask that you:
• Quantify the amount of repurchase agreements qualifying for sales accounting at each quarterly balance sheet date for each of the past three years.
• Quantify the average quarterly balance of repurchase agreements qualifying for sales accounting for each of the past three years.
•Describe all the differences in transaction terms that result in certain of your repurchase agreements qualifying as sales versus collateralized financings.
•Provide a detailed analysis supporting your use of sales accounting for your repurchase agreements.
• Describe the business reasons for structuring the repurchase agreements as sales transactions versus collateralized financings. To the extent the amounts accounted for as sales transactions have varied over the past three years, discuss the reasons for quarterly changes in the amounts qualifying for sales accounting.
• Describe how your use of sales accounting for certain of your repurchase agreements impacts any ratios or metrics you use publicly, provide to analysts and credit rating agencies, disclose in your filings with the SEC, or provide to other regulatory agencies.
• Tell us whether the repurchase agreements qualifying for sales accounting are concentrated with certain counterparties and/or concentrated within certain countries. If you have any such concentrations, please discuss the reasons for them.
• Tell us whether you have changed your original accounting on any repurchase agreements during the last three years. If you have, explain specifically how you determined the original accounting as either a sales transaction or as a collateralized financing transaction noting the specific facts and circumstances leading to this determination. Describe the factors, events or changes which resulted in your changing your accounting and describe how the change impacted your financial statements.
• For those repurchase agreements you account for as collateralized financings, please quantify the average quarterly balance for each of the past three years. In addition, quantify the period end balance for each of those quarters and the maximum balance at any month-end. Explain the causes and business reasons for significant variances among these amounts.
In addition, please tell us:
• Whether you have any securities lending transactions that you account for as sales pursuant to the guidance in ASC 860-10. If you do, quantify the amount of these transactions at each quarterly balance sheet date for each of the past three years. Provide a detailed analysis supporting your decision to account for these securities lending transactions as sales.
• Whether you have any other transactions involving the transfer of financial assets with an obligation to repurchase the transferred assets, similar to repurchase or securities lending transactions that you account for as sales pursuant to the guidance in ASC 860. If you do, describe the key terms and nature of these transactions and quantify the amount of the transactions at each quarterly balance sheet date for the past three years.
• Whether you have offset financial assets and financial liabilities in the balance sheet where a right of setoff — the general principle for offsetting — does not exist. If you have offset financial assets and financial liabilities in the balance sheet where a right of setoff does not exist, please identify those circumstances, explain the basis for your presentation policy, and quantify the gross amount of the financial assets and financial liabilities that are offset in the balance sheet. For example, please tell us whether you have offset securities owned (long positions) with securities sold, but not yet purchased (short positions), along with any basis for your presentation policy and the related gross amounts that are offset.
Finally, if you accounted for repurchase agreements, securities lending transactions, or other transactions involving the transfer of financial assets with an obligation to repurchase the transferred assets as sales and did not provide disclosure of those transactions in your Management’s Discussion and Analysis, please advise us of the basis for your conclusion that disclosure was not necessary and describe the process you undertook to reach that conclusion. We refer you to paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(4) of Item 303 of Regulation S-K.
As noted above, we seek to better understand the basis for your decisions and your disclosure. Please provide us with a written response to these questions within ten business days from the date of this letter or tell us when you will respond. Upon our review of your response to these questions, we may have additional comments that we will provide to you with any other comments we may have on your Form 10-K.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
Senior Assistant Chief Accountant