“I don’t think the SEC’s culture is one that will make this effective one iota,” said Sherron Watkins, a one-time vice president at Enron, referring to expanded protections for whistleblowers included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. If she was in the same situation today as 10 years ago, when Watkins approached government authorities about accounting fraud at Enron, she would probably instead take her information to an organization like WikiLeaks, Watkins said. [Paper Trail]
~ Update includes email sent to all KPMG employees and further details on communication within PwC.
Confirming some chatter in last Friday’s post on the banishment of WikiLeaks at Deloitte, notification at Grant Thornton was sent out late on Friday.
So not even after a long, hard day doing Stephen Chipman’slowed to read catty messages between diplomats or war logs on your personal computer. What’s next? Firmwide emails instructing lonely accountants not to visit Fleshbot (NSFW)?
Personal time aside, judging by the conversation on the Deloitte post, it appears that KPMG has also communicated ‘no peeky at wiki’ but we haven’t seen the official communiqué. And since all the major firms have contracts with the Feds, we decided to call around to see find out the scoop. So far, a source at PwC did inform us that the WikiLeaks website is accessible but no official policy on accessing the site has been communicated to the firm at large.
[UPDATE: We have learned that PwC’s Washington Federal Practice did receive communication prohibiting access, downloading, etc. etc. to WikiLeaks, however, as we’ve updated above, a firm-wide communication was not sent.]
Messages with E&Y and KPMG were not immediately returned. If there has been official lines have been drawn in the cyber-sand, kindly email us with any communication.
UPDATE: The message from KPMG, courtesy of the sagacious Judge Sven Erik Holmes:
Date:December 10, 2010
To:All KPMG Personnel
From: Sven Erik Holmes, Vice Chair, Legal and Compliance
Subject:Government Notice Regarding Web site Access
PLEASE DO NOT DELETE THIS E-MAIL WITHOUT READING
In response to the recent well-publicized release of government documents on the WikiLeaks Web site, the federal government has begun notifying its contractors regarding restrictions on accessing classified documents included in that release. As a provider of services to several federal agencies, KPMG is a federal government contractor and has begun receiving such notices from its federal agency clients. This e-mail contains important instructions regarding access to such classified information, which are applicable to all firm personnel.
KPMG personnel should not access information marked or labeled as classified (including material publicly available on the WikiLeaks Web site or other Web sites) using government or KPMG computers or other devices that access the Web (such as PDAs or Smartphones) as doing so risks placing material that is still classified on non-classified systems. This restriction does not limit employee or contractor access to nonclassified, publicly available news reports (and other nonclassified material) that in turn reference classified material, as opposed to the underlying classified material itself (whether or not in the public domain).
The government’s notices remind us that federal contractors are obligated to protect classified information pursuant to all applicable federal laws, and to use government information systems, whether classified or unclassified, appropriately. Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents (whether in print, on a blog, or on a Web site) do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents. To the contrary, classified information, whether or not already posted on public Web sites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. government authority.
If you believe that you may have downloaded classified information to a government or KPMG computer or other device that accesses the Web (such as a PDA or Smartphone), please contact [a KPMG lawyer who will ask you a ton of questions and probably scold you] in OGC at [lawyer’sname]@kpmg.com.
KPMG personnel are also reminded that firm policy requires personnel to maintain the confidentiality of any information that they obtain from a client in connection with a client engagement. It is important that the confidentiality of any such information be maintained.
Funny how slow TPTB were to react this (message is dated today). Assange isn’t even haunting our dreams any more. Nevertheless, NO. PEEKY. And if you’ve already taken a look, you need to report yourself, ASAP.
ALERT: New federal government guidance on accessing or downloading classified information
The following is a message from [redacted], chief quality officer.
In the wake of the recent WikiLeaks disclosures of U.S. classified information, the U.S. Office of Management & Budget (OMB) and the Department of Defense (DoD) published guidance that prohibits federal government employees and federal contractor personnel from accessing the WikiLeaks website to view or download classified information. As federal contractors, the Deloitte U.S. Firms and their professionals are obligated to protect the integrity of classified information.
This notice is designed to facilitate compliance with the OMB and DoD guidance. All personnel should note the following:
Despite the unauthorized public disclosure by WikiLeaks, the information disclosed retains its classified status. The decision to remove classified status must be rendered by a government classification authority. In short, the information remains classified in spite of any public disclosure.
The access or download of classified information could be determined to be a security violation that requires immediate remediation, including removal of such information from our systems. A security violation could pose risks to the operations of Deloitte’s Federal practice and could negatively affect our client service capabilities.
You should not attempt to access the classified information on the WikiLeaks website or any related website. If you previously visited the WikiLeaks site or any related website to view or download classified information, you should immediately report a “Federal DOS Incident” via 1 800 Deloitte (option 5).
If you possess a security clearance, keep in mind that you are personally obligated to uphold the requirements for appropriate handling and dissemination of classified information, as outlined in your respective Classified Information Non-Disclosure Statement.
If you have any questions, please send them by e-mail to [redacted: presumably someone inside Deloitte who is familiar with these sorts of things].
Chief Quality Officer
We were a little surprised to learn that both KPMG and PwC had brief mentions in the WikiLeaks cables, however it is far less surprising that they were quite humdrum and didn’t bring anything new to light.
From the Swiss site, inAte>Wikileaks published cable referenced 09MOSCOW3144, created December 30, 2009, classified as confidential and originating from U.S. Embassy in Moscow, on alleged pressure that the Russian government has exerted on PwC to disavow its “clean opinion” audits in the Yukos Oil, aided by the reported raids on PwC office in Russia and threats to recall Russian audit license of PwC, closing this market for the Firm.
Wikileaks also published (09LONDON2598, for official use only, originating from U.S. Embassy in London, created November 11, 2009) KPMG’s sceptical reaction on the Queen’s opening speech in Parliament on November 18, 2009, where Her Majesty sets out one of the priorities for new legislative session – to develop a new Financial Services Bill, requiring form systemically important banks to establish plans for recovery and resolution, that ensure banks’ financial continuity, later called by journalists “living wills”.
Like we said – meh.
Now, what happens within a Big 4 or other large accounting firm is rarely a matter of national security (Francine may disagree with us) but there’s little doubt that firm CEOs, partners and other notables have said things that would range from the slightly embarrassing to the absolutely mortifying. Consequently, reactions to those statements would also range widely from mere chuckles to ”OH NO YOU DI’INT!” Because our imagination has a tendency to run wild, we’ll dispel a few of our own scenarios that we imagine being in the Big 4/mid-tier version of WikiLeaks:
• Barry Salzberg and Jim Quigley are known inside some Deloitte circles as “Team Propecia.”
• After the OT loss to Michigan State, John Veihmeyer is so upset that he sends an email to Henry Keizer stating, “THAT’S IT! NO RAISES THIS YEAR.” Keizer responds to JV, reminding him that ‘if that punk Jimmy Clausen had stuck around’ they wouldn’t be in this situation and he shouldn’t take it out on the firm’s employees.
• Emails between two Ernst & Young partners in Jericho, reveal that they’ve been hoarding the extra bathroom keys because they can’t stand asking the receptionist.
• Various Deloitte partners are quaking because it is common knowledge that Arnie and Annabel McClellan have an elaborate spreadsheet detailing their various fetishes.
• High-level executives at McGladrey considered putting ecstasy in the punch so people would be happier but ultimately decided against it (Phoenix/Vegas went their own way) because it would have resulted in too many accountants dancing for no apparent reason.
• Jack Weisbaum = The Most Interesting Man in the World. (Just like several actual WikiLeaks, everyone knew this to be true but it was not discussed openly.)
Perhaps you have your own theories or documentation regarding other exchanges. Please share with the group at this time or email us.