ANR: Ernst & Young Resigns As Sino-Forest Auditor; Can Ex-PwC Boss Change Goldman?; AICPA Has Suggestions for COSO | 04.05.12

Sino-Forest Announces Resignation of Auditor [SF]
Sino-Forest Corporation ("Sino-Forest" or the "Company") announced today that Ernst & Young LLP ("E&Y") has notified the Company that it has resigned as the Company's auditor effective April 4, 2012. In its resignation letter to the Company, E&Y noted that the Company had not prepared December 31, 2011 consolidated financial statements for audit and that, in the Company's March 30, 2012 filing under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, Sino-Forest said that it remained unable to satisfactorily address outstanding issues in relation to its 2011 annual financial statements.

MF Global U.K. Staff Seek $62 Million in Bonus, Severance [Bloomberg]
Employees of MF Global Holdings Ltd (MF) (MF).’s U.K. unit are seeking 39 million pounds ($62 million) of unpaid bonuses, severance pay and pension contributions from the collapsed broker’s administrator KPMG LLP. The service company that employed staff in London has one of the largest claims on a list of creditors published by KPMG on March 14. The 39 million pounds is for the unit to meet its remaining contractual obligations to workers, including guaranteed bonuses and statutory redundancy pay, KPMG administrator Richard Heis said.

O.C. man accused of embezzling $16 million [OCR]
The former financial officer for an Irvine tech company has been accused of embezzling more than $16 million and then losing most of it to gambling or the financial markets. Joseph Ibrahim, 33 and formerly of Rancho Santa Margarita, was arrested in New York late last month. A federal management ordered him back to Orange County earlier this week to be arraigned on a federal wire-fraud charge.

Goldman's New 'Lead' Man [WSJ, Earlier]

As part of the compromise with the fund, Goldman agreed to appoint a "lead" director, and the fund agreed to drop its shareholder proposal to replace Mr. Blankfein with an independent chairman. Mr. Schiro will be in charge of the 10-member board's governance committee, making him responsible for evaluating the performance of Mr. Blankfein as chief executive. Mr. Schiro also will lead meetings of the board's 10 independent directors. Goldman currently has two vacancies on its board. Some people who know Mr. Schiro say his kinder, gentler, YouTube-friendly demeanor could make a big difference as Goldman struggles to repair its reputation and escape controversy that has dogged the firm since the financial crisis.
 
Islamic finance pressured to join accounting mainstream [Reuters]
Rapid growth of Islamic finance is increasing pressure for the industry to enter the accounting mainstream, by seeking guidance from the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the global body which sets the tone for book-keeping in conventional finance. It would be a controversial move – by basing itself on religious principles, Islamic finance seeks to set itself apart from conventional finance. But some experts think the industry is becoming so big that it can no longer sit comfortably outside a trend towards harmonizing accounting rules across the world. "The whole thing about financial reporting around the world today is the global move towards a single comparable set of high-quality financial reporting standards…" said Samer Hijazi, financial services audit director at accounting giant KPMG, who monitors the development of Islamic finance.
 
Worth a good hour of anybody’s time [FT]
A question: "[W]hy is it that many seem to expect accounting concepts, no matter how difficult or complex, to be understood by means of a single sentence? People rarely have such expectations for other professional and scientific fields."
 
China will help create Big Six [Accountancy Age]
The growth of accounting services in China and Asia cold in turn help break the oligopoly of the Big Four firms. Talking to Accountancy Age, incoming ICAS president Sir David Tweedie said that attempts to intervene in the audit market were less than likely to succeed. Instead, the growth of the Asian market was the best chance to break the Big Four's stranglehold on major audits. The next ten years could see entrants from China take on PwC, KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte.
 
AICPA seeks some changes to COSO’s updated framework proposal [JofA]
In a comment letter, the AICPA wrote that the framework will be a valuable resource for practitioners. But the AICPA also described concerns, some of which are similar to those mentioned in the comment letter of the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ), which is affiliated with the AICPA. One concern focuses on how an organization should consider the “ranges of acceptability” that the updated framework describes for principles that are present and functioning.

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