July 17, 2018

Chisholm Bierwolf Nilson & Morrill

PCAOB Permanently Bans Utah Accounting Firm, Ex-Managing Partner From Auditing Public Companies

The PCAOB has just made a serious example out of Bountiful (yes, it’s a town), Utah-based Chisholm, Bierwolf, Nilson & Morrill by banning the firm permanently from auditing public companies after “numerous violations of professional standards, including failure to detect fraud.” The Board also barred former managing partner Todd Chisholm for life and partner Troy Nilson for five years.

Curious about what kind of shoddy work the firm performed to get such a slap? Us too. Luckily the Salt Lake Trib has an example:

One of the companies that the firm audited was Powder River Petroleum International Inc., an Oklahoma corporation with offices in Alberta, Canada.

Until it was placed into receivership in 2008, Powder River’s public filings reported that it acquired, developed and resold interests in oil and gas properties. The company resold interest in oil and gas leases to investors in Asia, but reported those investments as income despite also promising investors a return of 9 percent until their principal was recouped, the board said.

That resulted in the company, traded over-the-counter, overstating its revenue by up to 2,417 percent, its pretax income up to 441 percent and assets up to 48 percent.

I called the PCOAB to see if this was the most severe ban every given to a firm and a CPA but couldn’t get an immediate answer. The five year ban also seems pretty severe. Doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch since the Board has only issued 36 disciplinary actions since 2005. I’ll update the post when I get some definitive answers. UPDATE: We’ve been informed that “it’s among the most severe” penalties issued.

It’s also worth noting that two of the firm’s clients – Hendrx Corp. and Jade Art Group – had substantial Chinese operations which wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t for this, “Chisholm, who does not speak or understand Chinese, relied on Firm assistants with Chinese language skills to identify audit issues, communicate with management and third-parties, and analyze documents provided by the issuer.”

Maybe those “assistants” were audit wizards, maybe they weren’t but either way, Mr Chisholm might be looking to change careers.

Chisholm