November 21, 2018

BDO

There’s Still Some Confusion About the BDO/Grant Thornton Situation in Hong Kong

The Wall St. Journal’s China Real Time Report stumbled upon the BDO/Grant Thornton poaching exodus merger situation (some may say, “clusterfuck”) in Hong Kong and we have no choice but to take issue with it.

The headline reads, “Missed It? Hong Kong’s Big Accounting Merger” and they mention the original report from the South China Morning Post. They manage to tone down the narrative but more or less tell the same story, full with quotes from BDO Hong Kong’s CEO Albert Au Siu-cheung:

On Wednesday, about a month after the joint press release, the South China Morning Post featured a front-page article describing the merger as a mass poaching of staff by BDO, “the biggest such raid in the city’s accounting sector.”

“It’s a bit sensational,” Au said, adding there was no raid. “Poaching is I pick a few heads here and there,” he said. “What you’re seeing here is the whole firm, meaning the partners and staff, coming to join us in BDO.”

In other words, “Sure it sounded bad but really it was just people making a choice”:

“There is no goodwill payment of any kind,” Au said. “I like to think they are voting with their feet. By that, I mean they think they’re joining a platform they have commitment to and believe in.” Clients were informed of the change and had the option to find another accounting firm. All clients have stayed with Grant Thornton for this merger.

Of course if someone at the Journal had rang up Grant Thornton International they would have likely gotten the story that we reported on last Friday which is that GTI booted the affiliate firm in Hong Kong and that BDO is kinda, sorta misrepresenting the situation:

They did not choose to leave, they were told to leave…[I]t is disingenous, or possibly wishful thinking, on the part of BDO to suggest that Grant Thornton is pulling out of Hong Kong. Many partners and staff from the former Hong Kong firm have already contacted the new Grant Thornton firm and clients will, of course, decide for themselves whether to move to BDO, which operates in the region as a loose affiliation, or remain with the more integrated, ‘one firm’ approach of Grant Thornton.

And of course there are the opposing press releases. The joint one issued by the BDO/GT firm dated October 7th that states:

Leading accounting firms BDO and Grant Thornton are pleased to announce that their firms have agreed in principle to merge their businesses and practise in the name of BDO Limited.

And the one from GTI, also dated October 7th that states something quite different:

Grant Thornton International gave its Hong Kong member firm notice on 20 September to leave the global organisation by March 2011.

With that mandate and probably few options, it appears that GTHK ran into the arms of BDOHK. BDO is using the Journal to disseminate a story that makes them look proactive and ambitious when in reality, none of this would even be happening if GTI hadn’t told their HK firm to get lost. The Journal – like the South China Morning Post – doesn’t mention that. Some people might consider that a major piece of the story.

We’ve put out a warning in the past about wandering into our corner of the sandbox without knowing what the hell you’re doing (or at least checking with us first) and you can consider this a friendly reminder about that. We’re more than happy to help because this accounting/accounting firm stuff is tricky when you don’t spend every single day reading and writing about it.

Grant Thornton: BDO Suggestion That We Are Pulling Out of Hong Kong Is ‘Disingenuous’

Following up on our post from Wednesday on the movement of 600+ Grant Thornton Hong Kong employees to BDO, we’ve received some correspondence from Grant Thornton International that clarifies the situation.

Turns out, a brief press release – whole thing after the jump – was issued by GTI last month that announced that the firm had given notice (confirming speculation in the comments) to its HK firm to GTFO by March 2011.

In email to Going Concern, GTI spokeswoman Hilary East broke it down for us:

They did not choose to leave, they were told to leave. Success in China is critical to the long term ambitions of G are committed to an integrated approach to the China market, which includes Hong Kong. While many partners in the former Hong Kong firm supported that strategy, their leadership was unable to agree amongst itself and separation became the only option. Grant Thornton China immediately set up a new firm in Hong Kong, led by a group of partners from the original Hong Kong firm with support from the 1500 partners and staff across mainland China.

The new firm that Ms East mentions, presumably is Jingdu Tianhua Hong Kong which we mentioned in our previous post that will adopt the Grant Thornton name “in due course.”

But what about this article in the South China Morning Post that quotes BDO Hong Kong’s CEO as saying, “The opportunity to have a massive admission of so much established accounting talent is rare.” ?

Ms East elaborated for us:

[I]t is disingenous, or possibly wishful thinking, on the part of BDO to suggest that Grant Thornton is pulling out of Hong Kong. Many partners and staff from the former Hong Kong firm have already contacted the new Grant Thornton firm and clients will, of course, decide for themselves whether to move to BDO, which operates in the region as a loose affiliation, or remain with the more integrated, ‘one firm’ approach of Grant Thornton.

If you read the South China article, you won’t see a single mention of GTI giving the Hong Kong firm notice, unless you count the extremely vague and misleading passage:

Grant Thornton chief executive Patrick Rozario, who led the move to BDO, said the team decided to shift because of Grant Thornton International’s directive for the mainland member firm to lead Grant Thornton’s Hong Kong office.

“We consider BDO, which is run independently in Hong Kong and China, respectively, is a model that suits us better,” Rozario said.

No mention of the GTI press release. No mention of the new firm that GTI was setting up. No mention that some staff and partners were considering their options. The headline (and sub-hed) in the article is even ridiculously misleading: “Troubled accounting firm’s staff jump ship Grant Thornton to close as BDO gains full team”.

And why the article even brings up Gabriel Azedo’s disappearance is mystifying. It’s more than hella-stretch to suggest that the trouble caused by him has anything to do with GTI’s or BDO’s moves. Plus hardly anyone (including the Financial Times) gives a damn any more about his whereabouts. The guy has been on the lam for over a year and is probably some accounting Kurtz figure by now.

Grant Thornton International Separates From HK

Accounting News Roundup: Signs of Compromise on Tax Cuts; KPMG Caught in Between IRS, Wells Fargo; BDO Elects New Board Members | 11.05.10

White House signals compromise on tax cuts [Reuters]
A conciliatory White House said on Thursday it was willing to negotiate with Republicans on tax cut extensions, but Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell took a hard line against compromises with President Barack Obama in a new Congress.

In the first possible policy shift since Democrats suffered heavy election losses two days ago, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs signaled Obama was open to talks on a temporary extension for the wealthy of Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of the year.

New York Court Sends “Amazon Tax” Case Back for More Information [Tax Foundation]
[T]he intermediate court of New York handed down its long-awaited “Amazon tax” opinion in Amazon.com, LLC v. New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. New York requires companies with no property or employees in New York to collect New York sales tax if the non-resident company receives revenue from in-state independent affiliates.

Qantas Blames Rolls-Royce for Engine Failure [WSJ]
Qantas Airways Ltd. Chief Executive Alan Joyce on Friday said the design of Rolls-Royce Group Plc engines could have caused a mid-air failure that forced one of its A380 super jumbos to make an emergency landing in Singapore.

“This is an engine issue and the engines were maintained by Rolls-Royce since they have been installed on the aircraft,” Mr. Joyce told reporters at the company’s headquarters in Sydney. “We believe this is most likely a material failure or some kind of design issue.”

BBC strike silences Today and hits TV news [FT]
BBC journalists ignored the pleas of their editor-in-chief on Friday, taking strike action over plans to cut their pension benefits and driving familiar morning news programmes off the air.

The Today programme on Radio 4 was replaced with pre-recorded material, including a documentary on bird life in the Humber estuary, while Radio 5 Live and the BBC’s morning television news were produced with skeleton staff and unfamiliar presenters.

IRS looks into Wells Fargo tax deductions [MST]
A dispute between the Internal Revenue Service and Wells Fargo & Co. that has been quietly taking shape in a Minneapolis federal court could cost the bank hundreds of millions of dollars.

The clash involves “sale-in, lease-out” (SILO) transactions in which a tax-exempt entity transfers tax benefits to a taxpayer like Wells Fargo, in exchange for a fee. The IRS says Wells Fargo has claimed nine-digit losses for tax purposes on such deals, but the government considers them an illegal tax dodge.


BDO USA, LLP Announces Results of Board Elections [BDO]
Brian Eccleston, Scott Hendon, Albert Lopez and Brad Schrupp have each been elected to the firm’s board of directors. These elections, which are for a three-year term, are effective immediately.

“The partnership has shown wise judgment in electing these very deserving individuals and I am confident that the firm will benefit from the insight they will bring to the process,” said Jack Weisbaum, CEO of BDO USA.

Actress’ name is mud in tax man’s eyes [Tax Watchdog/Detroit News]
Jaime Pressly is the actress and she owes $376k.

Exodus Watch: 600+ in Grant Thornton’s Hong Kong Office Move to BDO

What in the name of Stephen Chipman’s dubious accent is going on here? Why would a firm shut down an office in an emerging financiaosing six hundred partners and professionals to one of their rivals?

If you ask BDO’s Hong Kong Chairman and CEO Albert Au Siu-cheung, it has nothing to do with the disappearance of former GT managing partner Gabriel Azedo. It’s simply a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that found its way into the lap of BDO:


From the South China Morning Post:

“The opportunity to have a massive admission of so much established accounting talent is rare. This will strengthen BDO’s competitiveness in the local accounting industry,” Au said. “This will also create a bigger mid-tier firm allowing listed companies a choice for auditing and professional services in future.”

Au said the recruitment would be completed by the end of this year, and all staff and partners would become part of BDO, while Grant Thornton would cease operation in Hong Kong. Grant Thornton’s clients – including 130 listed companies audited by the firm – had been notified of the change and most agreed to make the switch to BDO, Au said.

Au said lawsuits involving Grant Thornton’s missing boss, former managing partner Gabriel Ricardo Dias-Azedo, were not a factor in the move.

This is a head scratcher for sure. Although this isn’t the first time a major firm has had mysterio issues in H to the K. Last year, Ernst & Young’s office was raided for the firm’s involvement with Akai that ultimately resulted in the firm paying a rumored $400 million to settle the case.

We reached out to PR at Grant Thornton’s International office but since they’ve probably been at the pub for hours already, we’re still awaiting a response.

We did find this announcement from Grant Thornton International which states that the firm has a new “member firm” in HK but nothing about the movement of the 600 professionals:

Grant Thornton has announced the appointment of a new member firm in Hong Kong. The new practice, set up by Grant Thornton China, will begin trading as Jingdu Tianhua Hong Kong but will adopt the name “Grant Thornton” in due course. The new firm will be led by Daniel Lin, an established and highly regarded member of the accounting profession in Hong Kong.

[…]

The new firm plans to have a staff of over 100 people within 12 months. Significantly, it will be fully integrated with Grant Thornton China and be part of a network of 10 offices providing seamless access to 65 partners and over 1,500 professionals across mainland China and Hong Kong.

Ed Nusbaum, chief executive officer of Grant Thornton International explains, “Grant Thornton has long been committed to a strategy of an integrated approach to serving clients across the China market, including Hong Kong. This appointment of Jingdu Tianhua Hong Kong is a vital step in that strategy and our member firms, now over 100 in number, look forward to working with their new colleagues in Hong Kong.”

Okay, so a “vital step” includes the closing of an office the defection of 600 professionals and “130 listed companies” for an office with less than 100 people total? Can anyone – looking straight at you Ed – explain this? Since he’s pretty hard to nail down we’ll take your theories for now.

BDO Officially Resides in the First State

By all accounts, BDO as a firm, has had a decent 2010. There were the typical raises and promotions that were met with a giant “meh” by the BDO faithful.

The firm celebrated its 100th birthday last month, with offices marking the occasion in various ways. And probably most importantly, the Florida Appeals Court ordered a new trial in the Banco Espirito Santo case.


The decision in this case allowed the firm to jump off its deathbed reenergized, allowing Jack Weisbaum to continuing to moonlight as a TV commercial star as well as open a Raleigh, North Carolina office.

The good times continue with the addition of McBride Shopa & Co. including a message from Tom Shopa with a pleasant piano accompaniment in the background.

Jack W. was able to sneak away from a busy commercial shoot to share his feelings on the matter:

“The addition of the partners, professionals and staff formerly with McBride Shopa adds the important Delaware market to BDO’s existing presence in the Philadelphia and the greater Washington, DC area. We are excited about the many growth opportunities that this combination will bring to our clients and our future clients,” said Jack Weisbaum, CEO of BDO USA.

The bright side for BDO is that since the Taxman is likely coming to Delaware, there will be plenty of new business opportunities.

How Are BDO Offices Celebrating the Firm’s 100th Birthday?

We’re merely echoing the question.


Apparently there is some go-karting happening in Charlotte which sounds fun, especially if there was a three beer minimum to get on the track.

Other things we’re envisioning:

• Gents of all body types in the Woodbridge, NJ office coming to work as The Situation (i.e. sans shirt).

Miami office employees are wearing their homemade “FUCK BANCO ESPIRITO” t-shirts (that could be any office really).

• At HQ in Chicago, CEO Jack Weisbaum reenacting Dos Equis ads only to substitute “Stay thirsty my friends” with “People who know – Know BDO”

What else is going on? Let us know.

Comp and Bonus Watch ’10: BDO Having a Happy Hump Day?

From the mail bag:

I heard that BDO is communicating compensation adjustments and bonuses this week. Bonuses are to be paid on September 15.

Seems to be in line with our last post on BDO comp and bonuses, so if you’re get good or bad news this week regarding either, share with the group and keep us informed.

PCAOB Is Still Overachieving: Issues Inspection Reports for BDO, Grant Thornton, PwC

Well team, despite the little setback for the PCAOB earlier this week, Team Peek is not discouraged. In fact, they were so motivated by the SEC’s little stunt that they thought they’d churn out three major inspection reports today, just to show everyone that they get to say what’s what with these accounting firms (even if it is in an indecipherable combination of vague and wonky prose).

BDO, Grant Thornton and PwC all got their papers issued today, which leaves just KPMG as the last major U.S. firm to not have their report issued. We’ll give you the quick and dirty on these three but if you want the gory details, you’ll have to read them in depth yourself (some o know). We’ll go in alphabetical order so no one gets bent out of shape.


BDO had eight issuers mentioned in its report. Issues included not testing the underlying data used by a specialist, failure to identify a departure from GAAP before issuing its audit report, loan losses and “[failure] to perform sufficient procedures to evaluate the reasonableness of a significant assumption management used to calculate the gain on the sale of a business,” among others.

PCAOB_2010_BDO_Seidman_LLP

GT only had five issuers listed in their report with problems including two instances of departures from GAAP that weren’t identified before the issue of the audit report, testwork related to fair value determination of illiquid assets and testwork around revenue recognition. Steve Chipman got away from the teleprompter long enough to sign the letter to the PCAOB himself, along with Trent Gazzaway, the National Managing Partner of Audit Services.

PCAOB 2010 Grant Thornton LLP


Nine issuers were noted by the inspectors for P. Dubs. Various issues ranging from inadequate testing of foreign locations, loan loss issues (that’s a given) and fair value (another surprise). PwC’s response made it sound like they actually enjoy the whole inspection process, “We continue to support the PCAOB and we wish to convey our sincere appreciation for the professional efforts of the PCAOB staff.” Wonder if the engagement teams that were inspected feel the same?

PCAOB_2010_PricewaterhouseCoopers_LLP

Compensation and Bonus Watch ’10: Who Knows BDO?

After coming out the near-death experience thanks to the Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal, you’d figure TPTB at BDO would continue shoveling the good news out while they could. On the comp front, a tipster tells us that while there are rumors that raises are bonuses are coming, no one has a clue as to what they’ll be:

Can you run a discussion on BDO compensation increase and bonuses? Raises would be effective 10/1, and currently there have been no formal communications from senior mgmt regarding this topic. In the local offices, there has been word that there will be raises and bonuses, but no numbers have been thrown around.

In other words, if you’ve got the goods BDO peeps, kindly spill it. It’s about time you started talking. If you’re not comfortable voicing yourself, email us and we’ll handle it.

KV Pharmaceutical Will Get to Know BDO

As we’ve mentioned, it’s been a rough summer – hell a rough year – for KV Pharmaceutical. The company paid nearly $26 million to the Justice Department back in February, had massive layoffs in March and their Chairman and CFO back in June.

Last month, KPMG decided it had had all the drama it could handle and resigned as the auditor of the company.

But as the second half of 2010 gets into full swing, KV managed to find a new CFO and now they’ve managed to land a new auditor – BDO.


BPR:

K-V Pharmaceutical Company (NYSE: KVa/KVb) announced today that the Audit Committee of its Board of Directors has engaged BDO USA, LLP (“BDO”) as the Company’s independent registered accounting firm.

The Company and BDO will commence work immediately on the planning, audit and filing of the fiscal year 2010 Form 10-K and will then follow with the review of its quarterly filings for fiscal year 2011. K-V’s fiscal year end is March 31.

Mr. Mark Dow, Chair of the Board’s Audit Committee, stated, “The Audit Committee and the entire Board is pleased to be able to announce the selection of BDO as the Company’s new accounting firm. BDO has extensive knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry and also a previous relationship with K-V, and the Company believes BDO will be able to assess and complete its audit of the Company’s Fiscal Year 2010 financial statements expeditiously. We look forward to working closely with BDO to bring the Company back into compliance with all of its Securities and Exchange Commission filings as quickly as possible.”

Right! Staying compliant! That sounds a bit maj. Not only that but the New York Stock Exchange (sort of of a big deal in their own right) is sick of KV stinking up their big board with their 30-day average stock price hovering under $1.

The company has assured the NYSE that they’re on this stock price problem, “The Company will furnish to the NYSE on or prior to August 10, 2010 a response affirming its intent to cure this deficiency and outlining the steps it is currently taking and plans to undertake in the near term to restore compliance with the NYSE’s continued listing standards.”

Let’s just say BDO has their work cut out. KV has no internal controls to speak of, is having trouble convincing the FDA their products are safe and the SEC and NYSE breathing down their necks. Now maybe this won’t all translate into the auditors’ magic wand but there’s got to other potential clients in the St. Louis area with far less drama.

K-V Pharmaceutical Company Engages BDO USA, LLP as Independent Registered Accountants [PR Newswire]
Notice of Delisting or Failure to Satisfy a Continued Listing Rule or Standard; Transfer of Listing [SEC]

Jeremy Newman and BDO Will Not Be Taking Part in Your Lowballed, Low Quality Audits

BDO International CEO Jeremy Newman is a little concerned about the trend of lowball audit fees out there. Now, those aren’t his exact words, in fact he calls it ‘‘extreme downward pressure on fees’ which still seems far more than honest than “my US colleagues call ‘fee compression.’”

He’s worried because he thinks that all this slumming around for any little opining job will lead to shoddy audits:

There is increasing evidence that fees are being forced down to such an extent that one worries this will encourage audit firms to ‘cut corners’ to reduce their own costs and thereby reduce audit quality – particularly given that the buyers of audit services (ie clients) do not monitor or determine audit quality which is a role taken on by regulators who are not involved in the pricing discussion between the client and the audit firm.

Yes, the man has evidence, courtesy of:

Canadian Public Accountability Board – “CPAB has learned that certain audit committees are pressuring firms to significantly reduce audit fees. This stance may be incompatible with the audit committees’ important role … in helping to ensure the integrity of financial reporting.”

Australian Securities and Investments Commission – “We will also focus on audit quality for new or existing audits where audit fees appear low or appear to have been reduced for reasons other than changes in the underlying business of the entity being audited.”

And he rounds it out with a quote from a speech given by Stephen Hadrill, the Chief Executive of the UK’s Financial Reporting Council, “There is a role for the market in setting higher expectations of auditors. So far the market has not played that role. Quite the opposite. It is more likely to applaud lower audit fees than higher quality.”

So if you’re desperate to retain some business or provide “client service” through the Wal Mart method, you’ll be on your own. As long as Newman is running the ship at BDO, they will be choosing quality over quantity, “despite the pressure on us to reduce costs,” no matter what other firms (read: Igbay Ourfay) are doing.

A Bizarre Market [CEO Insights]

BDO Does Some Ribbon Cutting, Opens Raleigh, NC Office

More good news out of B to the D to the O as the firm announced today that it is opening an office in Raleigh, North Carolina (full press release after the jump). This will be the 39th office in the U.S. and fourth in North Carolina. The firm also has eight affiliate offices in the state.

In the process, the firm managed to pick up former Ernst & Young audit partner Michael Dannar (a refugee perhaps?).


The good times at BDO have been aplenty lately as the firm just admitted five partners on July 1 and was given a mulligan on the Banco Espirito lawsuit. Oh and don’t forget that the firm fka BDO Seidman is celebrating its 100th birthday all year.

No word if there will be cake or freakishly large scissors at the celebration but nevertheless, it’s good to see some expansion in the Tar Heel state for a change.

BDO USA, LLP EXPANDS NORTH CAROLINA PRESENCE WITH NEW RALEIGH OFFICE

Chicago, IL – BDO USA, LLP, one of the nation’s leading professional service organizations, has announced an expansion of it’s presence in North Carolina with the addition of a new office in Raleigh. The Chicago-based firm, which now has offices in 39 cities around the country, had previously serviced clients in this market through its Charlotte practice. Pending a move to permanent office space at 5430 Wade Park Boulevard in August, the new practice, which will have approximately 15 staff, will be temporarily located at:

BDO
5410 Trinity Road, Suite 310
Raleigh, NC 27607

The Raleigh business community will now have more direct access to BDO’s full array of services which include assurance, tax, risk advisory, financial planning, business restructuring, litigation and fraud investigation services. Michael Dannar, previously with Ernst & Young, has joined the firm as a partner and will assist in serving the firm’s assurance clients in Raleigh and throughout the southeast. Mr. Dannar has significant experience working with colleges, universities and other non-profit organizations.

“We have been working with clients in Raleigh for a number of years now and the time is right for us to establish a permanent presence. This new office will enable us to better serve our clients in this growing market,” said Jack Weisbaum, CEO of BDO USA. “We are also happy to welcome Michael Danner to the partnership. His knowledge of the market will be a valuable resource to our firm.”

BDO SEIDMAN FACTS:

• BDO is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding in 1910.
• BDO represents companies ranging from Fortune 500 multinationals to closely-held private businesses.
• BDO had $620 million in revenues in 2009 (6/30/09). Over the past four fiscal years, the firm has averaged double digit growth (10.2%).
• As an independent member of BDO International Limited (the fifth largest global network of accounting firms), the firm can leverage the resources of more than 1,000 member firm offices in 115 countries around the world.

ABOUT BDO USA

BDO is the brand name for BDO USA, LLP, a U.S. professional services firm providing assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a wide range of publicly traded and privately held companies. For 100 years, BDO has provided quality service through the active involvement of experienced and committed professionals. The firm serves clients through 39 offices and more than 400 independent alliance firm locations nationwide. As an independent Member Firm of BDO International Limited, BDO serves multi-national clients through a global network of 1,138 offices in 115 countries.

BDO USA, LLP,a limited liability partnership, is the U.S. member of BDO International Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, and forms part of the international BDO network of independent member firms. BDO is the brand name for the BDO network and for each of the BDO Member Firms. For more information please visit: www.bdo.com.

Promotion Watch ’10: BDO Names Five New Partners

Fresh off their win last week in a Florida Appeals Court, BDO announced the admission of five new partners today in a press release (in full after the jump).

The new partners are Joseph Carr (Chicago – Tax), Anthony Lawrence (Grand Rapids – Assurance), Hoon Lee (San Francisco – Tax), Bryan Polozola (Dallas – Assurance) and Julie Valpey (National – SEC) and they get their big chairs effective tomorrow.

Congrats to the new partners and remember to keep the celebration under control.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

BDO USA, LLP, ADMITS 5 NEW PARTNERS

BDO USA, LLP, IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT 5 NEW PARTNERS HAVE BEEN ADMITTED TO THE PARTNERSHIP, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2010.

Chicago, IL– BDO USA, LLP, is pleased to announce that 5 new partners have been admitted to the partnership, effective July 1, 2010. Two of the new partners are in the tax practice, two are in the assurance business line and one is in the national SEC group. BDO is a leading national professional services firm providing assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to private and publicly traded businesses.

“I am very proud to welcome each of these very deserving individuals to our partnership,” said Jack Weisbaum, CEO of BDO USA. “A key to success in our profession is a commitment to recruiting, training and retaining superior client service professionals. Each of these new partners has excelled in their specific technical area while providing the highest level of client service.”

The newly elected partners include: Joseph Carr (Chicago – Tax), Anthony Lawrence (Grand Rapids – Assurance), Hoon Lee (San Francisco – Tax), Bryan Polozola (Dallas – Assurance) and Julie Valpey (National – SEC).

About BDO USA
BDO is the brand name for BDO USA, LLP, a U.S. professional services firm providing assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a wide range of publicly traded and privately held companies. For 100 years, BDO has provided quality service through the active involvement of experienced and committed professionals. The firm serves clients through 38 offices and more than 400 independent alliance firm locations nationwide. As an independent Member Firm of BDO International Limited, BDO serves multi-national clients through a global network of 1,138 offices in 115 countries.

BDO USA, LLP,a limited liability partnership, is the U.S. member of BDO International Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, and forms part of the international BDO network of independent member firms. BDO is the brand name for the BDO network and for each of the BDO Member Firms. For more information please visit: www.bdo.com.

Accounting News Roundup: Financial Reform Finalized; Banco Espirito v. BDO 2.0; Small Win for Skilling, Big Loss for PCAOB? | 06.25.10

U.S. Lawmakers Reach Accord on New Finance Rules [WSJ]
By the end of this one, can’t you picture an exhausted Barney Frank with his tie loosened to mid-torso, pants undone with fly wide open open and some staffer dabbing his sweaty brow?

“After more than 20 hours of continuous wrangling, Congressional Democrats and White House officials reached agreement on the final shape of legislation that would transform financial regulation, avoiding last-minute defections among New York lawmakers that had threatened to upend the bill.

After months of uncertainty about how the U.S. would craft new rules, the agreement offers thince the financial crisis of how markets and the government will interact for decades to come. The common thread: large financial companies are facing a tougher leash.”

Just in case you missed it yesterday, former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt isn’t nearly as excited as some people about the bill. The President is expected to sign the bill before July 4.

Sidenote on this one: how the Journal managed to slip Maxine Waters through as one of a dozen “players” in this bill should cause you to question – if even for just a minute – the credibility of the paper.

Florida Appeals Court Turns Down Heat, For Now, On BDO Seidman [Re: The Auditors]
Francine’s take on the decision by the Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal to order a trial in the Banco Espirito v. BDO case. An event she isn’t thrilled about, “My doubts about the efficacy of a new trial are based on the disappointing, frustrating and completely unsatisfying way the court and the judges in this case have proceeded. Some of the additional comments raised by the Appeals Court do not bode well for this plaintiff’s chances next time around.”


Supreme Court Rolls Back a Law Born of Enron [NYT/Floyd Norris]
In more Congressional ineptitude (at least in the eyes of the SCOTUS), former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling won his case at the high court, arguing that “the concept of committing fraud through depriving an employer of ‘honest services’ was not adequately defined in the law,” Floyd Norris writes.

In other words, the “idea” of fraud being a kickback or a bribe is obvious and was defined. Manipulating mark-to-market and off-balance sheet accounting rules or “something else equally outrageous” were not and thus the law was unconstitutional. Long story/short, Norris writes, is that

Funny story on the way to this Skilling outcome – if the SCOTUS rules against the PCAOB (it is expected on Monday), “It will blame Congress for writing bad laws,” Norris writes. And who forced Congress into action on Sarbanes-Oxley?

BP: Oil-Spill Cost Hits $2.35 Billion [WSJ]
Has anyone handicapped this? Obviously the $20 billion reserve is a good ballpark figure but the overs have to be a pretty solid bet on that. Takers?

Caturano being acquired by RSM McGladrey [Boston Business Journal]
The firm fka RSM McGladrey purchased Caturano and Company, the fifth largest firm in Boston. The deal, if approved by H&R Block, would make RSM McGladrey…the fifth largest firm in Boston.

BDO Wins New Life as Florida Appeals Court Orders New Trial

In what amounts to a HUGE win for BDO, the Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami has ordered a new trial in the case between BDO and Banco Espirito Santo:

A Florida appeals court has thrown out a $521 million jury verdict and ordered a new trial in a dispute over audits between accounting firm BDO Seidman and a major Portuguese bank.

The Third District Court of Appeal in Miami ruled Wednesday that the 2007 trial was wrongly divided into three phases.

That meant jurors decided BDO Seidman should pay punitive damages too early in the case.

BDO Seidman was sued by Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santmed on a Miami company later exposed as a huge fraud. The bank claimed BDO Seidman was negligent for not detecting the fraud, costing the bank $170 million in losses.

Jurors awarded the bank $170 million in losses plus $351 million in punitive damages.

We reached out to the Steven Thomas, lead counsel for the Banco Espirito for his reaction:

This case has been sent back for another trial because of the procedural ‘bifurcation’ issue. We are pleased that the effort and hard work the jury put into this case was recognized by the appellate court, and we specifically note that the Court did not dispute BDO unethical conflicts of interest or its negligence. The evidence of BDO Seidman’s failures of even the most basic auditing procedures is so overwhelming that we expect a new jury will reach the same conclusion as the original jury. We look forward to trying this case and reminding everyone of BDO Seidman’s neglect of its public duty and the enormous conflict of interest they had.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, undisputed negligence cited by Mr Thomas, the mood inside BDO is one of vindication. From the firm’s press release not yet posted on the firm’s website:

The firm is pleased to announce that the Third District Court of Appeal of the state of Florida has unanimously overturned a 2007 jury verdict against the firm and ordered that the Bankest case be retried in the 11th Circuit Court. The Court of Appeal concluded that:

• The Trial Court erred in its original decision to trifurcate the trial, ruling that it was prejudicial to have allowed the case to be presented in three phases. This made it possible for the jury to find BDO grossly negligent without, at the same time, considering the conduct of other actors, including representatives of Banco Espirito Santo.

• The Appellate Court further concluded that the evidence of reliance on BDO’s audit opinions was insufficient to sustain the claims of the Bankest investors, save for the one individual who testified at trial.

• The Trial Court improperly allowed into evidence prejudicial hearsay testimony and documents that further served to deprive BDO of a fair trial.

The Appellate Court concluded, “We have carefully considered every substantive and procedural authority that might be applied to preserve at least some of the jury’s findings. In this case, no such balm is found.”

“We are very pleased that the Appeals court has reversed the lower court verdict. We have consistently stated that we were confident that the jury’s erroneous verdict in this case would be reversed on appeal. The addition of punitive damages at the time only served to emphasize the injustice that took place at the trial court,” said CEO Jack Weisbaum. “A new trial will be in accordance with the Court of Appeal’s decision and we will prove that BDO acted at all times consistent with its professional obligations and that its audit opinions were based on the proper application of generally accepted auditing standards.”

So we’ve got a new trial with a re-energized BDO and a tenacious plaintiff. It sounds like BDO will stick with its defense strategy of “we did no wrong,” so this should be fun.

Florida Third District Court of Appeal Decision [PDF]

Accounting News Roundup: Tipsters Expose Fraud More Often Than Most Controls; What if the PCAOB Is Unconstitutional?; BDO Could Question Forensic Accountant’s Credibility | 06.01.10

Something Wicked This Way Comes [CFO]
A recent Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) study discovered that “[o]f the top eight controls ranked by effectiveness, only one — surprise audits, which cut fraud losses by 51% — is part of the traditional accounting-based control structure. Financial-statement review, internal audits, and Sarbanes-Oxley-mandated certifications by CEOs and CFOs all ranked below the nonaccounting controls in terms of effectiveness in preventing fraud.”

Controls have no match for good old human conscience, “tips expose fraud three times as often as do management reviews, internal audits, or account reconciliations.”


The problem however, is that employees may not be getting the training about how to report fraud if they know it’s happening, “an unsupportive corporate culture and poor employee training leave potential whistle-blowers unsure of whom to talk to.” Plus the baddies are doing their best to dissuade them, as Sam Antar told CFO, “[They] don’t go down without a fight, they don’t fight fairly, and they are going to intimidate whistle-blowers — that’s the nature of their game.”

Accounting for Crisis [Portfolio.com]
Gary Weiss writes over at Portfolio about the impending decision in Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB and he’s not impressed with the FEF’s argument, “claiming that the board would give our Founding Fathers heart attacks because its members are appointed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and not the president and can’t be removed except for cause.”

That despite the PCAOB’s lack of fireworks in its daily activities, “The PCAOB has not exactly rocked our world—and obviously its existence did nothing to keep Lehman from its Repo 105 book-cooking scheme. But getting rid of it, particularly on specious Constitutional grounds, would be a blow to the cause of more accurate financial statements.”

The odds say that the SCOTUS will affirm the lower court’s decision but just in case, Gary agrees with Interim PCAOB Chairman Dan Goelzer that Congress needs to act fast if the Court surprises us and reverses the decision.

Clifton Gunderson buys Stockton Bates [Philadelphia Business Journal]
Philadelphia-based Stockton Bates will join Clifton Gunderson’s 1,900 employees and 300 partners effective today. Stockton has 32 employees between three offices in Philadelphia, Lancaster, PA and Haddonfield, NJ.

BDO Seidman fights claims brought by fraudster Lew Freeman [South Florida Business Journal]
Convicted forensic accountant Lewis Freeman testified in the case of ES Bankest and BDO. So it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Freeman’s conviction could call his credibility as a witness into question as well as the Bankest bankruptcy proceedings, where Freeman acted as the court-appointed receiver.

BDO Breaks Barrier to Be First Accounting Firm to Land on Obscure Employer List

First off, we can’t remember the last time BDO graced these pages twice in one day. You’d think something would come out of B to the D to the O more often but whatevs. BDO 2.0 today is a little bit of good news for the firm in the form of an exclusive spot on an obscure “Best Places” list.

God forbid our lives be devoid of a ranking in the last half of May but since it’s graduation season and there are some job hunters out there that need to start paying back school loans and credit cards debts, perhaps the timing isn’t so bad. A list we might add, that did not previously have an accounting firm on it. Progress people. Progress.


BDO shattered the glass ceiling on Experience’sBest Places to Work for Recent Grads” that “picked 20 organizations whose entry-level hiring and retention practices are exceptional.” The list is specifically aimed at those companies that are hip to the Gen Y crowd, although we don’t really know any “recent grads” list that wouldn’t be.

Regardless, BDO has some decent company on the list that includes Accenture, Kellogg’s and Morningstar but BDO is the sole accounting firm. The fact that not a single accounting firm (let alone a Big 4 firm) is on the list is a travesty of the highest order. We then realized that the list’s very nature is severely flawed.

It’s too short. Any employer list with less than 50 companies on it simply cannot be taken seriously.

And since there were no accounting firms on last year’s list, this might as well have been random list of companies thrown together for the sake of keeping communications professionals busy.

This year, the Experience folks must have recognized their gross error and that since no employer list could be taken seriously devoid of a professional services firm. Not wanting to make it too complicated, BDO’s inclusion be probably chalked up to an alphabetical advantage.

Best Places to Work for Recent Grads [Experience]
BDO Press Release

BDO Not Thrilled with the Legal Advice It Got Re: Tax Shelters

BDO’s Tax Solutions Group was going gangbusters back in the late 90s and early aughts. Unfortunately, the party more or less ended in December 2000 when the IRS served notice to the firm that some of the products were not ingenious tax planning strategies but rather illegal tax shelters. The DOJ launched an enforcement action in 2002 and just last year BDO partners started pleading guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy and some other fun charges.

BDO isn’t crazy about shouldering all the shame and embarrassment so it has decided to sue the law firm Morgan Lewis for “professional negligence, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and constructive fraud.” BDO alleges that ML’s breach amounted to “disastrous results” which is likely referring to the tax shelter shitshow. They just want their $9 million back that they paid in fees and call it a day (they’re saving up!).


Morgan Lewis finds this all very amusing, stating that they advised BDO only on minor issues. ML is represented by Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher led by James Fogelman, who made his client’s position very clear:

Morgan Lewis called the lawsuit a “sham” and contended it only advised [BDO Partners] on a few minor questions — none of which involved the questionable tax products. “There was nothing that Morgan Lewis knew about to warn BDO concerning BDO’s own conduct. … There was nothing more BDO needed to know,” Fogelman wrote.

The only time Morgan Lewis opined on a tax product, the firm contends, was in February 2000, when BDO asked it to weigh in on a tax shelter dubbed the Sentinal Transaction. Morgan Lewis responded that the tax shelter was “unlikely” to expose BDO to criminal convictions. In its motion to dismiss, the firm said, “[I]t does not appear that anybody has ever been convicted of any federal crime based on the Sentinal Transaction.”

And Morgan Lewis doesn’t simply want to be vindicated in this matter, they want to be right AND they they would like BDO and DLA Piper (BDO’s counsel) to have sanctions slapped on their asses for lying through their teeth in their complaint. ML contends that they presented evidence disproving the allegations but BDO and DLA must have decided that a bitter fight would be more fun.

And it is.

BDO Seidman Seeks $9 Million in Fees Back From Morgan Lewis [The National Law Journal via Law.com]

Hey Ladies, Have You Thought About Working for BDO?

As most of us know, women are overrepresented in public accounting yet not necessarily rewarded for their hard work, dedication, and deftness in handling both career and family (for first and second years, substitute “family” for “sleeping with hot coworkers”). Knowing that, we’re thrilled to tell you that BDO has been chosen as one of the 2010 Best CPA Firms for Women by the American Society of Women Accountants and the American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants. The award is an initiative of the ASWA and AWSCPA joint Accounting/MOVE project, a national research effort to measure progress and advance women at public accounting firms and corporate accounting employers.

The Accounting/MOVE project was especially impressed by BDO’s promotion of women within the firm tied directly to BDO’s training and retention initiative.


If you recall, BDO was conveniently left out of the Working Mother 100 best companies in 2009 list last year.

As a working mother AND woman myself, I find it appropriate to point out that not all women are mothers so it doesn’t necessarily mean any progress has been made on BDO’s work/life policies. It would be awfully presumptuous of everyone – and, frankly, a tad sexist – to assume as much. For some women, work/life balance simply means spending less time at work and more time hooking up with coworkers or pursuing other hobbies and activities that don’t involve dirty diapers and scrubbing crayon drawings off of the wall.

BDO Named a Best CPA Firm for Women by American Society of Women Accountants and American Woman’s Society of CPAs [Business Wire]

Funny homeless guy sign

You Know That Guy Who Panhandles on Your Block? He May Be a CPA.

Anybody out there looking to help their fellow CPA, who’s down on his luck?
The Wall St. Journal is reporting that the former BDO Seidman LLP CEO, Denis Field may have to pay back a portion of $180 million that is being sought by prosecutors in the tax shelter case that involves Field and six others.
Natch, everybody has denied wrongdoing. The charges include conspiracy and tax evasion. Good luck with that.

Prosecutors Seek Ex-BDO Seidman CEO, 6 Others To Forfeit $180M
[WSJ]

BDO

Jeremy Newman Just Wants to Be Clear, We are NOT Declaring Victory Over Banco Espirito…YET

BDO_International.pngAfter throwing an all night rager last week when BDO International Global Coordination skated on the $521M verdict, Jeremy Newman, BDO Boss, wants everybody to chill.

Newman said he had always been confident that BDO International’s arms-length approach would be proved but added: ‘There is still the risk of a further appeal, as well as the appeal by the US firm.’

See? Staying cool. Not out of the woods yet. But when we beat those bastards on appeal, then we are getting down.

Newman stays cool after BDO victory
[Accountancy Age]