The PCAOB announced yesterday that it has banned Crowe Horwath Hong Kong from auditing U.S. listed companies for three years. This came about after the firm refused to cooperate with the Board’s investigation by failing to provide workpapers for an unnamed client.
This might seem strange since the PCAOB reached an agreement with Chinese authorities back in 2013. And yes, I suppose there is an agreement in place, but I like how the Wall Street Journal puts it into context:
Many Chinese companies have had accounting questions raised about them in recent years, but China- and Hong Kong-based auditors of those companies have sometimes resisted U.S. regulators’ attempts to investigate. China’s government considers auditors’ documents about Chinese companies akin to “state secrets,” and auditors have expressed fears they could be jailed if they hand over those documents to U.S. regulators.
I don’t know about you, but there are few agreements I wouldn’t break to stay out of a Chinese prison. Plus, Crowe HK wasn’t exactly killing it; the firm only issued 22 audits over six years, so it doesn’t seem like a major setback, business-wise. But yeah, not going to prison is a helluva reason not to cooperate.
Don’t mess with Tanzania
Acacia Mining Plc is learning this the hard way:
The government issued the company, which mines all of its gold in the African country, with a $40 billion tax bill and another $150 billion in interest and penalties, Acacia said in a statement Monday. The charge covers alleged under-declared export revenues from the Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines over periods between 2000 and 2017.
Acacia is owned by Barrick Gold Corp., which had $1.05 billion in revenue last year and sales of $7.7 billion since 2009. At that rate, they’ll pay off Tanzania in 2207 or so.
Accountants behaving badly
Cheryl A. White of Greensboro, N.C. stole about $1 million from her clients from 2010 to 2014, and she did so in unremarkable fashion:
White would write herself additional payroll check and paid personal expenses in her or her spouse’s name using the client’s business checking account and forging the business owners’ signatures on checks. White also paid her children as employees of the company, according to the U.S. Attorney.
I don’t know if I’ve taken the time to put some of these thoughts in writing, so here we go: 1) If you’re an accountant thinking about embezzling money from your employer or clients, re-think; 2) If you’ve re-thought and still plan to embezzle money from your employer or clients, keep your loved ones out of it. Seems like a professional courtesy that even a morally compromised accountant could manage.
Previously, on Going Concern…
I presented you with the opportunity of a lifetime: a dusty stack of Arthur Andersen materials. In Open Items: “[H]ow weird/normal/ or big of an asshole move would it be to intern with Big 4 A and take full time with Big 4 B?”
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