June 23, 2018

Accounting News Roundup: The [dot]CPA Domain and Insider Trading | 09.08.17

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What’s the AICPA up to?

“Congressmen concerned about misuse of .cpa domain” is an Accounting Today headline and sure, I suppose some members of Congress don’t have anything better to do. The issue in this case is that the AICPA has been trying to secure “.cpa” as a generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) string for a few years. There’s been some concern, however, from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) that the .cpa domain could be used with sinister intentions:

In a letter last month, the lawmakers pointed out that a 2013 communique by ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee identified several domain extensions connected to regulated or professional sectors, including the accounting profession. “The GAC recognized that ‘these [gTLDs] are likely to invoke a level of implied trust from consumers, and carry higher levels of risk associated with consumer harm,’” they wrote. “Further, the communique highlighted that gTLDs such as ‘.cpa’ could be used to deceive consumers of CPA services in the United States and around the world if granted to those outside the global CPA community.”

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but my hunch is the AICPA put these members of Congress up to this. It took me only a minute or so to find this 2015 letter from the AICPA  to ICANN complaining about “unfair and prejudicial consequences” of the decision to “defer consideration of AICPA’s December 2014 Change Request.” There’s been more correspondence and whatnot, but ultimately things have gone nowhere. Ultimately, it seems the AICPA wants to be the master of their domain, but there are lots of hoops to jump through and lots of cajoling to be done. Since they’ve had no luck so far, the AICPA has finally called in the big guns to put pressure on ICANN, making the case that tight controls around who gets a .cpa domain are necessary.

Which is fine! I guess wrangling over these things is part of what the AICPA does. It is interesting, I think, that it’s gotten to the stage where they’ve decided to tag in their pals from Congress.

Insider trading

Although not strictly accounting-related, every once in awhile, an insider trading settlement is worth sharing for nothing else but its wonderful irony. Today it’s the case of a former Amazon financial analyst (maybe a fancy accountant?) and his former fraternity brother who were stars of an SEC Litigation release yesterday:

The SEC alleges that Brett Kennedy accessed nonpublic 2015 first quarter earnings information without authorization while working at Amazon and shared it with Maziar Rezakhani, who illegally traded on the financial results before their public release to make more than $116,000 in illicit profits. According to the SEC’s complaint, Rezakhani paid Kennedy $10,000 in cash for the tip and also shared the trading profits with Sam Sadeghi, who was advising him on his brokerage account trades and joined Rezakhani at a meeting with Kennedy to discuss the nonpublic information. The SEC’s complaint alleges that Rezakhani and Sadeghi aimed to establish a successful track record with the trading in Rezakhani’s brokerage account and together open a hedge fund in New York that would accept investments from others.

Ah, yes, nothing shatters big hedge fund dreams quite like trading on material, non-public information. The best part is this, however:

According to the SEC’s complaint, Rezakhani boasted on at least two trading-related internet communication platforms in the days leading up to Amazon’s earnings announcement that he was predicting first quarter revenue of $22.7 billion and earnings per share of -$0.12, writing that the “numbers are so obvious” that a “5 year old can guess what they will do.”

Yes, even 5-year-olds who steal the answers to the test can score a 100%. It won’t surprise you that Rezakhani is already doing time for an unrelated fraud conviction.

By the way, who at the SEC makes sure the most amusing and/or embarrassing bits of information from each investigation are put it into the communication for the outside world? If I ever decide to go into public service, I am finding that job.

Previously, on Going Concern…

We shared a survey that we’re conducting of Los Angeles accountants. If you live and work in the L.A. area and want to participate, we want to hear from you.

In other news:

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Image: iStock/jejim

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Accounting News Roundup | 01.21.10

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.