September 20, 2019

Amateurs

Now We Have an Ernst & Young Jack-o-lantern

Yesterday we learned how you can get into the All Hallow's Eve spirit without dressing up like a paper shredder or Luca Pacioli. A PwC jack-o-lantern is just the thing to get the attention of your friends, neighbors, and, apparently, the boss this Halloween season. While mosWell, someone at Ernst & Young was not impressed.  […]

Chicago-based Recruiting Firm Should Keep in Mind That the City of Dixon Would Jump at the Chance to Switch Places

Shaun Horan is no Rita Crundwell (allegedly!): A former Oak Brook accountant stole nearly $300,000 from his employer by writing checks to himself over a five-year span, prosecutors said Wednesday. Shaun Horan, 31, of the 1600 block of Blackwell Lane in Aurora, appeared in DuPage County bond court on a felony theft charge. Horan is accused of […]

Marin County Adds ‘Racketeering’ to the List of Allegations Against Deloitte

Hell hath no fury like an obscure California county that feels completely gypped (to the point that they feel it’s fraudulent) by the largest professional services on Earth.

Marin officials fired another salvo in an escalating $105 million legal war with international computer consultants, filing a new lawsuit Thursday accusing them and a former county official of violating racketeering law in a bid to rip off taxpayers.

The new suit was filed against Deloitte Consultant LLP, software developer SAP and former assistant auditor-controller Ernest Culver, who served as project director of the county’s troubled computer installation before quitting to join SAP.

As you may recall, Marin County’s original suit against Deloitte for $35 million involved allegations of “fraud, misconduct and misrepresentation” which included using ‘neophytes’ on the implementation of the county’s ERP system. The new racketeering charges are especially interesting and the Marin Independent Journal has the details:

It alleges a conspiracy, asserting consultants wined and dined Culver and interviewed him for employment at the same time Culver was approving deficient work on the project, approving fee payments and helping line up new contracts.

“County taxpayers were charged for millions of dollars in services that Deloitte failed to properly perform” and residents were “defrauded of the honest services of a high-ranking county official,” according to County Counsel Patrick Faulkner.

Deloitte denied the allegations of the original suit, saying that Marin County was actually responsible for the snafu. However, and unfortunately for Deloitte, new shit has come to light:

Faulkner disclosed that the county has combed through its computer system to retrieve thousands of e-mails issued by consultants and Culver while they worked in county offices, providing a backbone for accusations leveled by the latest suit.

The complaint alleges six violations of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by Deloitte and SAP, and three counts of illegal conduct against Culver, including a violation of the state anti-corruption statute.

So it doesn’t sound like there’s a smoking gun per se but enough back and forth that adds up to this:

The lawsuit, the county said in a press release issued late Thursday, claims that when problems with Deloitte’s work surfaced, Deloitte and SAP engaged in a “cover-up that included bribing Culver to falsely ‘approve’ Deloitte’s defective work, and silencing an SAP employee who tried to intervene on the county’s behalf.”

So, in other words, pretty bad stuff. The MIJ reports that “Settlement talks are expected and while the parties remain at odds, the latest court filing could spur negotiations.” Using our best translation skills, this more or less says, “Deloitte, SAP and Culver realize they’re fucked – begrudgingly – and will be going to the table any day now to sort things out.”

The Independent Journal also reports that SAP, Deloitte or Ernest Culver “could not immediately be reached.” Our own messages with Deloitte spokemen Jonathan Gandal and John La Place were also not immediately returned.

Marin County alleges racketeering in new lawsuit over computer debacle [MIJ]

Local Pastor Ignores Accountant’s Advice on Document Destruction Project

A US pastor says he is not “backing down” from plans to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11, despite international outrage.

“We are not convinced that backing down is the right thing,” said Terry Jones of 50-member Florida church, the Dove World Outreach Center.

Actually, we have no idea if Terry Jones has an accountant in his congregation but IF HE DID you would hope he would consult an expert on these matters. May we recommend this:

US pastor has ‘no intention’ of stopping Koran bonfire [BBC]

Sir David Tweedie Would Appreciate It If You Quit Complaining About the New Accounting Standards

This means you PricewaterhouseCoopers. You’re acting like this convergence/IFRS adoption is just happening too fast, well, Tweeds isn’t having it.

As for you companies out there that actually have to keep their books in tiptop shape, Sir Tweeds isn’t so amused by your bellyaching either. And for the love of God, would everyone quit playing dumb:

“Let’s look at what we’ve got out there at the moment – leases, revenue recognition and insurance. If you’re not an insurance company you’ve got two. Big deal,” he said.

“I’m not terribly sympathetic. It’s not as thought these have sprung out of no where, we’ve been working on these, they’ve seen the drafts coming, they know what we’re doing.

Furthermore, maybe if you got some of your people on this instead of writing a comment letter every two seconds, this wouldn’t seem like such monumental task.

“It’s tough, but goodness it’s tough for us too. We can’t keep getting all this advice. We always get conflicting advice. ‘You must have these done by June 2011, but don’t give them to us all at once’,” he said.

Tweedie “not terribly sympathetic” to concerns of standard-overload [Accountancy Age]

Marin County Scrapping SAP System That Deloitte ‘Neophytes’ Slapped Together

Earlier in the summer, we told you about Marin County California, who was pretty displeased with Deloitte throwing a bunch of ‘neophytes’ at their ERP implementation project or in the County’s words ‘a trial-and-error training ground.’

As a result of Deloitte’s amateur hour, the SAP system – that Deloitte claims was just fine and dandy where they left it – is now being thrown to the scrap heap by the county because fixing it will cost more than replacing the whole system. And God knows Arnie won’t be helping them out with the bill, so they have to save on costs where they can.

The system is the subject of a lawsuit Marin County filed against system integrator Deloitte Consulting earlier this year. Deloitte used the project as “a trial-and-error training ground” for inexperienced employees, and the result was a “costly computer system far worse than the legacy systems it was intended to replace,” according to the county’s complaint.

Deloitte has filed motions against Marin County’s “completely unfounded allegations,” as well as a complaint seeking unpaid fees, a spokesman said via e-mail. The system “was working properly and could perform all the tasks consistently with the standards set forth in the written contract,” according to a Deloitte court filing.

Marin County tells a different story. The SAP implementation dates to 2006, but today only 50 percent of the functionality is in place and working properly, according to a county report.

The county hasn’t decided on who they’re going with for the new system but if you’ve got a one-person shop with no experience and present your RFP using overhead transparencies, you’ll still have an edge on Deloitte.

County will rip and replace ailing SAP system [Reuters]

Deloitte Employees Enjoy Boozing, Checking Out Men in Uniform Thanks to G-20 Protesters

Protestors of this weekend’s G-20 Summit invaded Toronto this week which promoted some companies in the TO’s financial district to take extraordinary measures so that their employees wouldn’t be bothered by all the jobless ruffians.

Most shops just sent people home as a precautionary measure as protestors gathered throughout the week but some diehards are camping out, as FINS reports on StatPro North America’s office that is near the red zone that surrounds the Toronto Convention center:

Andrew Peddar, chief operating officer of StatPro North America, said that the firm wanted to ensure that its clients, which include asset managers and hedge funds, could be assured of uninterrupted service during the week.

The campout was the employees’ suggestion. That way, they’ll avoid potential disasters on the client front and also sidestep protestors.

“We have sleeping bags, lot of food and lots of liquid,” said Peddar. The axes? “In case we need to break out.”

Or chop off some ne’er do well’s arm, you know, whatever is necessary. Obviously these guys are overachieving, bedwetting amateurs that don’t recognize an opportunity when they see one.

Fortunately, Deloitte knew better and told all its employees to work from home starting Tuesday. Some used the unexpected time off to get enamored by the security, “Junaid Zia, a risk analyst at Deloitte, had most of the week off. When he left the office Monday night, he said he didn’t see any protestors, only a lot of policemen…’They should just do G-20 every year,’ he said.”

But at least one Big 4 veteran saw this as a perfect opportunity to do some weekday drinking:

[A] senior analyst at the office, took the opportunity to spend time riding his motorbike and watch soccer… “I went to a British bar for the England game, an Argentinian bar for an Argentina game, a German bar for a German game,” he said. “But I’ve been working.”

By Thursday, he was lying down at home, having injured his back. He declined to elaborate on how the injury happened.

Probably hurt it tracking that fantasy football team, no?

What I Did During the G-20 Summit [FINS]

Marin County Accuses Deloitte of, Among Other Things, Using ‘Neophytes’ on SAP Project

Deloitte is being sued by Marin County in California, who is alleging fraud by misrepresenting its “skills and experience.” In other words, the County says that D used their ERP project as more or less a training ground for its newbie consultants. And no client likes it when you bring the blades of grass on site. They can’t even turn on their laptops without causing some sort of scene, amiright?


Channel Web has some of the particulars:

The County in April 2005 hired Deloitte to implement its SAP ERP system. However, the County alleged in the court document, “rather than providing the County with SAP and public sector expd the County’s SAP project as a trial-and-error training ground to teach its consultants — many of them neophytes — about SAP for Public Sector software, all at the county’s expense.”

Plus! The County claims Deloitte promised their very best people. From the complaint: “Deloitte further represented that for the County’s SAP implementation, Deloitte had assembled a team of its ‘best resources’ who had ‘deep SAP and public sector knowledge.’ ”

A Big 4 firm promising their best and brightest on the job in an RFP? There’s a shocker. “Best” being relative, as we all know but Marin County (obviously not familiar with a Big 4 sales pitch) must have been expecting a team to fly in from hyperspace that could slap this thing in lickity.

Thankfully, Michael Krigsman explains over at ZDNet that this isn’t exactly rare:

1. The court filing describes sales practices that are common through the consulting and systems integration industry.

For example, the complaint alleges that Deloitte committed to “dedicate our best resources and bring tailored implementation strategies to meet [Marin’s] long-term needs.” Many IT customers complain their system integrators do not follow through on such commitments and use inexperienced labor in attempts to reduce their own costs and increase profits.

We’d be so bold to say that this true of many Big 4 engagements, whatever the service line. Newbies have to get their teeth cut somewhere – why not on a public service job where money obviously grows on trees?

Deloitte isn’t impressed with this gnat of a lawsuit, claiming that they did exactly what they were supposed to do (not to mention to put up with the amateurs at MC that have zilch ERP experience) and the system was working just fine when they left:

As stated previously, we fulfilled each and every one of our obligations under the contract, as evidenced three years ago when all of our work was approved by the County officials responsible for the project. To be clear, the SAP (NYSE:SAP) software was working properly when we completed our work in November 2007. Not only is the complaint without merit, but we are filing our own claim against the County for breach of agreement and unpaid invoices. Although we are confident that we will prevail in court, it remains our belief that this dispute can and should be resolved in a more logical fashion that benefits the County and its taxpayers.

So Deloitte gets a little huffy basically saying, “Suck it, Marin County. MBAs love Deloitte. OH, and btw, you owe us some money,” but ultimately wants to keep things civilized for the sake of the taxpayers. Let’s hope it stays childish just for the sake of entertainment purposes. Taxpayers in California are f—ed anyway.

Marin County complaint against Deloitte Consulting on failed SAP project

California County Sues Deloitte For Fraud In SAP ERP Project [Channel Web]
Marin County sues Deloitte: Alleges fraud on SAP project [IT Project Failures/ZDNet]

IRS Sticks It to Amateur Tax Preparers

Thumbnail image for shulman.jpgAny tax preparers out there that got their stripes by virtue of an 8 hour course in the basement of a church will have to start hitting the books. Today, the IRS announced that it is putting a stop to all the amateur 1040 jockeys out there by issuing new requirements for all paid tax preparers.

The new requirements came after complaints from taxpayer rights’ groups who wanted stronger oversight over the industry. Apparently there are too many “tax professionals” that can’t tell the difference between a W-2 and a sack of doorknobs.

WSJ:

[S]tarting in 2011, all paid tax preparers will have to register with the IRS and include a unique identification number on any returns they prepare. Preparers will be given three years to pass a competency exam in either individual or small business taxation.

Attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents will not be required to pass the competency tests. They will remain subject to the requirements of their respective licensing bodies.

But the exams and new annual, continuing education requirements will impact likely hundreds of thousands of preparers, from employees of chain preparation firms like H&R Block Inc. and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. to mom-and-pop storefronts that offer tax preparation as one of several services.

Three years to pass an exam? Even the dimmest of CPA Exam candidates manage to finish in 18 months. Also, we’re curious as to what diabolical plot the H&R Blocks and Jackson Hewitts of the world will devise in order to speed their professionals into compliance.

Regardless of the shortfalls, Doug “Don’t expect me to apologize” Shulman said that the new requirements were ‘long overdue’. He also said that the Service will be forming a task force to look into determining the accuracy of tax prep software for possible future standards over that industry.

One thing is for sure, somewhere Doug’s boss is asking his friends if they know any good CPAs.

IRS to Boost Oversight of Paid Tax Preparers [WSJ]