"Big Four" auditors brace for big changes in China [Reuters]
The Big Four global audit firms, which dominate the Chinese market, are negotiating with Beijing to lessen the impact of forced changes that could mean only accountants with Chinese qualifications can be partners in their audit practices. The overhaul comes at a delicate time for an audit industry reeling from a rash of accounting scandals at Chinese companies, particularly those listed in high-profile overseas markets such as the United States. Any reduction in the audit capacity of KPMG, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) would increase foreign regulators' and investors' concerns about Chinese auditing.
Olympus Picks Insiders to Lead
Olympus Corp. is proposing changes to its top management with the nomination of Hiroyuki Sasa, the little-known head of its medical equipment marketing business, to be its next president as the scandal-hit company seeks to bolster its reputation and finances. The Japanese camera and endoscope maker also said Monday that it selected Yasuyuki Kimoto, a former senior managing director at Olympus main lender Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., to be chairman. With Messrs. Sasa and Kimoto, a slate of directors for its new 11-member board will be submitted to shareholders for a vote at an extraordinary general meeting set for April 20.
Former S.E.C. Lawyer Agrees to Pay $556,000 to Settle Madoff-Related Claims
The family of a former top lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission, David M. Becker, agreed to pay about $556,000 to settle claims over inherited money linked to Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The payment is equal to the entire amount of profit that Mr. Becker and his brothers inherited from a Madoff account held by their mother, who died in 2004, according to a statement Monday by Amanda Remus, a spokeswoman for Irving H. Picard, the trustee liquidating Mr. Madoff’s firm. Mr. Picard, in a November 2010 lawsuit filed in bankruptcy court in New York, originally claimed that the Beckers had received $1.5 million in fictitious profits. Mr. Becker, who left the S.E.C. in 2011 and is now a partner at the Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton law firm, faced criticism last year after Mr. Picard’s lawsuit was made public, suggesting he might have had a personal financial interest in policies he worked on at the S.E.C. related to how Madoff customers should be compensated.
Tax experts think deal could be done on corporate code overhaul this year
Despite what appear to be long odds, a handful of Washington tax experts think Congress and the Obama administration could actually make real progress on corporate tax reform this year. These optimists — who admittedly represent a minority opinion in town — point out that lawmakers have a relatively open calendar for the rest of 2012 following this month’s extension of the payroll tax cut. And they maintain that what others say are factors working against a tax overhaul this year — the likely hard-fought presidential race and the at-times strident partisanship on Capitol Hill — could actually help the push for reform.
MS: "We need a major new source of revenue to make up for an obsolescent corporate tax. That new revenue source is obvious to most policy experts. As shown in the table, the economies around the globe that we are presumably trying to emulate with lower corporate taxes have VATs, and, for the most part, they are raising consumption taxes while they cut their corporate taxes."
Another "Case" of Terrible Decisions Borne of Terrible Accounting Rules
Tom Selling: "In the revenue recognition project's nascence, the boards did solemnly aver that new standards would result in a much more faithful portrayal of economic reality: the driver of income would be changes to assets and liabilities, which would be measured at current values. But, once the boards got the message from issuers that they wouldn't easily give up the revenue recognition rules they knew and loved, the project has devolved into a (futile?) face-saving quest to put old wine in new bottles – i.e., to write one reasonably brief standard that would return the same (or better) values as hundreds of rules that comprise existing U.S. GAAP."
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Weird 'dog-headed pig monster' terrorizes Africa
Residents in northern Namibia, on the southwest coast of Africa, have reported being terrorized by a bizarre dog-pig hybrid creature. The animal is said to be mostly white and unlike anything the villagers have ever seen, with a doglike head and the broad, round, nearly hairless back and shoulders of a giant pig. The beast was spotted chasing and attacking dogs, goats and other domestic animals in this arid region not far from the Kalahari desert.