As we’ve discussed, the sudden departure of Wells Fargo’s now-former CFO, Howard Atkins, has been a bit of a mystery. The bank stated that Howie quit for “personal reasons” but Chris Whalen, for one, wasn’t buying that story and stated that it was an “internal dispute” at the Stagecoach Shop and “public behavior suggests significant problems in the bank’s internal systems and controls as defined by the Sarbanes-Oxley law.”
Then John Carney got all heresay yesterday, reporting:
Others say that the departure stems from a heated argument between Atkins and the CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf. Still others say that there could be even more personal reasons for Atkins leaving.
This is pretty fun because this “heated argument” could have been over something awesome like Atkins’s using Stumpf’s private commode without permission or a spurious challenge in their weekly Scrabble® match. Whatever the reasons for Atkins’s departure, all this speculation got the gang over at The Street wondering that maybe – just maybe – KPMG’s risk management team had soiled themselves over the whole situation and asked the audit team to start drawing up their resignation papers.
KPMG said Friday that it remains Wells Fargo’s […] external auditor, though the firm wouldn’t comment on recent criticism that Wells’ financial disclosures aren’t up to snuff. KPMG spokesman George Ledwith confirmed that the Big Four accounting firm is still working with Wells Fargo, which plans to file its 10-K annual report by the end of the month. Howard Atkins, who had been CFO of Wells Fargo for nearly a decade, resigned unexpectedly last week and won’t be signing off on that report. His replacement, Tim Sloan, will do so instead. “Yes, KPMG LLP is the external auditor for Wells Fargo & Company,” said Ledwith.
So what prompted this brief line of questioning is, in itself, a mystery. KPMG resigning as the auditor of Wells Fargo is about as likely as John Veihmeyer throwing all his copies of Rudy into an incinerator. But then again, maybe The Street knows something we don’t. Was/is/will there be any doubt that KPMG will remain the auditor of Wells Fargo? Rampant speculation and nightmare scenarios are welcome. And if you’re in the know, email us.