June 23, 2018

Accounting News Roundup: Will the Real Arthur Andersen Please Stand Up? | 03.03.17

Arthur-Andersen-Tax

Arthur Andersen

On Wednesday of this week, a post by Stéphane Laffont-Réveilhac appeared on LinkedIn entitled: “Arthur Andersen restarts with 26 offices in 16 countries on 5 continents.” Laffont-Réveilhac is identified as the “Global Managing Partner” in the byline, but the post reads more like a press release.

As from the 1st of March 2017, it is a reality: Arthur Andersen is reconstituted, with 26 offices on 5 continents and in 16 Countries.

Arthur Andersen encompasses offices in the following countries & states: United States of America (Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco), Europe (Cyprus, France, Greece), India, Brazil, the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar), Egypt, Indonesia and Nepal.

Discussions are underway for setting up offices in China, Canada, Australia, Israel, Russia and in a number of countries in the European Union, Asia and South America.

This announcement got some press in France, but little attention elsewhere and some of you might be wondering, “Didn’t Andersen claim to be back a couple of years ago?” And yes, your memory serves you well. WTAS resurrected “Andersen” to become “Andersen Tax” back in 2014. At the time, Mark Vorsatz, the CEO of Andersen Tax told Bloomberg that his firm had “paid a sum he declined to disclose for the rights to the Andersen name.”

But here’s an odd thing that appears in that LinkedIn post:

“Our firm is the rightful holder of the ‘ARTHUR ANDERSEN’ and ‘ANDERSEN’ historical trademarks, logos, visuals and slogans at a global level and are systematically instituting all legal initiatives necessary to defend our network and secure its development”, explains Carlo Brusa, Partner, Spokesperson and Pilot of the Project.

The funny thing is, this new Andersen doesn’t seem to have anything to do with old new Andersen (i.e. Andersen Tax). Check out what Vorsatz told Accounting Today:

“They are not affiliated and do not have any rights to the name,” said Andersen Tax CEO Mark Vorsatz in an email Thursday. “We purchased the rights to the Andersen brand in the U.S. and worldwide and have filed trademarks in over 50 jurisdictions. We have filed an action against them in France to require that they cease and desist use of the name. Also, to the best of our knowledge, they have no viable business in any locations.”

According to Oscar Alcantara, the general counsel for the old new Andersen, this new new Andersen is a bunch of poseurs:

Alcantara believes Andersen Tax represents the Arthur Andersen name and legacy better than the other firm, which he believes only has one former Andersen alumnus in it.

“On our side of the table what we have is a large group of people who truly represent the legacy of Arthur Andersen, individuals who had been with the organization for decades and who truly bear the goodwill of that culture,” he said. “We also have acquired the intellectual property rights of that entity in the form of trademarks and copyrights from Arthur Andersen LLP, as well as trademarks acquired from the former IP holding company of Andersen Worldwide. That’s what we have on our side of the table. On the other side there has been, I think, some discussion about one of the principals who worked as a lawyer in one of the offices. She was not a partner and didn’t have an ownership interest, so to speak, in any Arthur Andersen entity or office. While I’m sure she enjoyed her employment at that Arthur Andersen firm, I think it is very difficult for her to claim that she carries the legacy of that worldwide entity.

Oh, brother. I get that it’s a little strange for this new Arthur Andersen to pop out of nowhere and claim that they’re the real deal, but let’s not forget that it was pretty weird for a firm to pull the ol’ Lazarus on a tarnished name like Arthur Andersen to begin with.

Anyway, Laffont-Réveilhac didn’t respond to AT’s requests for comment and the Andersen Tax people that have looked into it have only found “that the offices in question are like co-op office space, maybe a phone number and a mailbox.”  This whole story is equal parts fascinating and baffling.

Caterpillar

There was quite a bit of noise yesterday about federal agents raiding Caterpillar over its offshore tax practices. And guess which accounting firm helped them with those offshore practices?

The report of the 2014 investigation said that Caterpillar, which makes heavy construction and mining equipment, worked with the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, now PwC, to use sham transactions to transfer $8 billion in profits to a Swiss subsidiary from 1999 to 2012.

Sorta related: Octavia Spencer on Oscars accountant: ‘I really said some prayers for him’.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Megan Lewczyk wrote about the Banking of Things. In Open Items, someone wonders about internal audit under a Trump administration.

In other news:

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How to find the “best and brightest” [CPA Success]
This may be a better topic for the friendly HR professional but figuring out who these future accounting rock stars are before they show up on their first day is “more art than science”, as Tom Hood notes.
Popular to some old-school thought, GPA does not always indicate who’s going to dominate in the real world and “soft skills” — besides being a terrible term — are in more demand than ever.
Help The The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Help Haiti [Re: The Auditors]
The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is having a drive today and since Francine’s friend is the CFO, we’ll be glad pass around the news:

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Guillermo Becerra, is the CFO of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. I asked him how I could help him, and the Red Cross, during what must be an incredibly busy time post-Haiti earthquake.


“The Chicagoland community will come together on Thursday, January 21 to give to the American Red Cross as we help the people of Haiti recover from the catastrophic earthquake that devastated their country last week.
The Chicago Helps Haiti media relief drive begins at 5 a.m. and lasts until 11 p.m. Nearly every TV and radio station in our area will be promoting this fundraising effort throughout the day. You can help too, by giving via phone or online, and sharing your thoughts here, on Facebook or Twitter, and by asking others to give.
To give from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. CALL 1 (877) 565-5000 or visit www.chicagoredcross.org/haiti

Plus, we’re guessing that if you give, your 2009 tax return isn’t much of a concern.
If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe [NYT]
The Times is concerned that you have a shitty password which puts you at a huge risk of being hacked by someone sitting in their parents’ basement.

Imperva found that nearly 1 percent of the 32 million people it studied had used “123456” as a password. The second-most-popular password was “12345.” Others in the top 20 included “qwerty,” “abc123” and “princess.”

You know who you are, ye with stupid passwords. Also, don’t even think of changing it to “654321” because that drops in at #19.

Accounting News Roundup: Haiti Relief Passes Senate; Accounting Job Surge? CPAs Basically Control People’s Lives | 01.22.10

Senate votes for faster tax breaks for Haiti gifts [WaPo]
As expected, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation yesterday that allows taxpayers to deduct donations made for Haiti relief efforts. You have until the end of February to donate so that it may be included on your 2009 return.

Maybe it’s bad legislation but we’ve been over that.

CPA Jobs Set for Surge. But When? [CPA Trendlines]
That’s the question, isn’t it? Rick Telberg, who has done a great job of tracking the Bureau of Labor Statistics on accountants, points out that while the latest BLS forecasts a 22% increase (279,400 jobs) by 2018, there’s no indication that it’s happening now:

[M]any tax, accounting and finance professionals are still slogging through the Great Recession. The Association for Financial Professionals, for instance, reported that about one in four respondents say their organizations will contract in 2010. At the same time, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of private companies found 43 percent of CEOs and CFOs still budgeting no expansion over the next 12 months to 18 months. The data just seem to reinforce economic uncertainties and a weak outlook.


The BLS is looking past the past the recession for the jump in opportunities but just when the hell will that be? Just because the economy isn’t contracting currently, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future and this “recovery” has been tepid at best.

Theismann to CPAs: You Are the Conscience of America [Web CPA]
Joe Theismann gets it. He knows that without all of you out there in CPA land, your clients don’t stand a chance. They’d be finished. Finished!

“You’re the conscience of America,” Theismann told conference-goers. “You are the survivors in tough times. With accountants, I’m not looking for someone to file taxes and do my financials. I can do that myself online. In your position you can basically control people’s lives.”

So get out there and control somebody’s life. Joe Theismann is expecting it.