China

What’s the PCAOB’s Next Move on China?

Earlier this week, we learned that the PCAOB was dealt a blow last month when their negotiations with China fell through. Paul Gillis weighed in earlier today with a grim prognosis: There are no good options left for the PCAOB. Successful short seller attacks indicate that fraud and auditing failures continue to be a problem […]

So Much for the PCAOB Inspecting Audit Firms in China

Welp. After years of negotiation and Chairman Jim Doty saying this past summer that the PCAOB was "very close" to reaching an agreement to inspect audit firms in China, this happened: Last month, a final agreement that would have allowed a U.S. regulator to examine the audits of Chinese companies listed on American stock exchanges […]

The SEC Folded Like a Cheap Lawn Chair in Its Settlement With Big 4 Chinese Affiliates

As you know, the much-awaited SEC settlement with Big 4 China affiliates hit the pages on Friday. This particular dust-up came about over some workpapers the SEC has waiting on since the Ming Dynasty or thereabouts. Here's the TL;DR ICYMI: The Securities and Exchange Commission today imposed sanctions against four China-based accounting firms that had refused to […]

The SEC Finally Got Around to Sanctioning Big 4 Firms in China

The SEC has been pretty busy lately, what with tongue-lashing the PCAOB about their duties and all. But somehow they found time in their busy schedule to get around to that whole sanctioning Big 4 affiliates in China thing: The Securities and Exchange Commission today imposed sanctions against four China-based accounting firms that had refused […]

Mark Weinberger Is Still Obsessed With His Speech No One Remembered

When you die, no one is going to come to your funeral and declare "wow, that guy could tie out like no one's business!" But your kids will certainly remember whether or not you showed up to 12 of their 55 soccer games. EY Global Chairman and CEO Mark Weinberger is all about the work-life. […]

Mark Weinberger Can Top Your Best Work-Life Balance Anecdote

When we talk about accounting firm culture, we often talk about the tone at the top. Besides being a really good buzzword that helps HR wonks convince the lowly serfs that The Powers That Be really care about their well-being, it basically means that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Or, […]

Forget Auditor Rotation, the PCAOB Has Bigger Fish to Fry in China

As you know, I sat through the SEC Open Meeting webcast yesterday just to catch the copious number of thank yous, Doty giving the prepared remarks I already had, and the conclusion we all knew the SEC would come to, which was approving the 2014 PCAOB budget. BOR-ING. Well out of that meeting, everyone seemed […]

After an Afternoon of Thank Yous, the SEC Has Approved the PCAOB’s 2014 Budget

In case you missed the thank fest that was today's SEC Open Meeting, the PCAOB showed up to get its 2014 budget of $258.4 million approved by the Commission after everyone went around the room and thanked one another for their hard work for capital markets. Repeatedly. Chairman Jim Doty validated the $12.8 million increase […]

The SEC and Deloitte Are Cool on That Whole Longtop Thing Now, Guys

In the ongoing battle to get their paws on Chinese workpapers, one battle seems to be won… er, solved? I don't know what you'd call this, exactly, but as long as the SEC has the "substantial volume of documents" it has been asking for all this time, then I guess everything is cool (for now): […]

The SEC Bans Big 4 Member Firms in China For Failing to Show Their Work

There's a storm a-brewin' in China and isn't a "fake" sun going viral. In a massive 112-page opinion, SEC judge Cameron Elliot has brought the hammer down on Chinese units of Big 4 firms, ruling that these units should be barred from auditing U.S.-traded companies for six months. The ruling comes after these member firms […]

A PwC Lawyer Who Recently Left the Firm Is Missing in China

Ugh. This doesn't sound good. An in-house lawyer for PwC has gone missing in China. Steve Leavenworth is American but has lived China for 17 years, according to the Telegraph. He recently left PwC after 15 years and was on a solo backpacking trip through Yunnan province when the bus he was believed to be on […]

Study: Once You Get Past the Accounting Fraud, Chinese Reverse Merger Companies Are Great

A paper presented in August at the annual meeting of the American Accounting Association in Anaheim, Calif., found that “the current Sino-phobic reaction to Chinese reverse mergers may be overblown.” In an effort to assess the performance of these often maligned companies, the study concluded that “as an asset class, Chinese reverse-merger firms (CRMs) have performed […]

China Ready to Turn Over Audit Workpapers for Some Company at Some Point

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been struggling to obtain papers from China to investigate possible accounting fraud at dozens of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. China has resisted for years turning over documents because of state-secrets and sovereignty concerns. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is now ready to transfer audit papers […]

Another One of Deloitte’s Former Chinese Clients Has Been Charged with Fraud

When fraud allegations first arose in 2011 against China MediaExpress, CEO Zheng Cheng countered with confidence, telling shareholders that everything was tip-top and the company had a 'reputable and well-known' audit firm behind them. Of course, later that firm — Deloitte — resigned, along with the CFO.  I suppose when you're in a situation like […]

Deal Between PCAOB, Chinese Is a Lose-Lose Situation

Yes, the PCAOB got a lousy deal by putting Jim Doty's name on the Memo of Understanding with China's Securities Regulatory Commission and Ministry of Finance, but Professor Paul Gillis writes in the Wall Street Journal that the Chinese don't have any room to talk, either: Without inspections, investors can't trust Chinese audits. Investors in Chinese […]

Deloitte Is the Audit Firm That Has Had the Most Trouble in China… By Far

Cruising around el Twittero this morning, we came across something interesting shared by Francine McKenna: Which auditor has most China fraud problems? Deloitte by a landslide. RT @chinajinrong: @retheauditors tradingfloor.com/posts/china-fi… — Francine McKenna (@retheauditors) May 29, 2013 This post by Fredrik Oqvist, founder of China RAI, has a table that shows which audit firms have had […]

Deloitte Suggests SEC Call the PCAOB If It Wants Those Longtop Documents

Last Friday, the PCAOB announced it had reached Memorandum of Understanding on Enforcement Cooperation with Chinese Regulators. While not a great deal for the Board, most people agreed that, at the very least, it's good for formally asking the Chinese, "Pretty please with sugar on top, may we have a peek at these documents?" Which […]

The PCAOB’s Disappointing Deal with Chinese Regulators

As is its wont, the PCAOB has made a major announcement in very close proximity to a major American holiday. I've been assured in the past that this bad timing is not intentional, but from a PR perspective, it has the tendency to soften the thunder of an important message. But whatever, we'll go with […]

Judge: Deloitte Can Handle Two Chinese-related Court Cases Just Fine

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd. lost a bid to delay a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seeking documents in an investigation of the auditor’s former client Longtop Financial Technologies Ltd. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington today rejected Shanghai-based Deloitte’s argument that the case should be put on hold while an […]

Oh Look, Deloitte Has More Trouble Thanks to a Chinese Audit Client

Just when you thought Deloitte's China rash had gone into remission, some investors come along who don't think too highly of the audit performed by D to the T. In this particular case, the investors are a group of investment funds including Columbia Pacific Opportunity Fund LP and Fir Tree Value Master Fund LP who, according […]

The PCAOB Is Really, Really Serious About Checking Chinese Auditors’ Work

Oh are we still on this?: The head of the U.S. audit watchdog said on Wednesday his organization may need to resort to enforcement actions against auditors based in China if they fail to hand over documents to U.S. regulators. Jim Doty, head of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, told the U.S. Securities and […]

Busy Season Problems: An Awful Cafeteria; The Power Goes Out; Clients Drop the Ball

Welcome to this week's edition of busy season problems. Got a busy season problem? Email us at tips@goingconcern.com with "Busy Season Problems" in the subject line. The final days of January are upon us so that means that for many of you, your lives are about to get infinitely worse. What that all entails will […]

SEC, China Will Probably Compromise Over Big 4 Chinese Affiliates Someday, Says Guy

The SEC's move against the Big 4's Chinese affiliates on Monday has people all worked up. On the one hand, yes, if the SEC were to delist a lot of Chinese companies that would make a lot of people sad. Also, if fewer Chinese companies were to consider accessing U.S. markets because they aren't so […]

SEC Finally Gets Around to Losing Patience with the Big 4’s Chinese Firms

China has been a thorny issue with the SEC and the PCAOB over the last couple of years. You see, there's been some concern that some Chinese companies have accessed U.S. markets through dubious means and then provided financial reporting and disclosures that weren't accurate in material respects. Audit firms charged with providing an opinion […]

Not Quite Layoffs Watch ’12: PwC China, Hong Kong

Does anyone think that this sounds strange? This week, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that to help avoid layoffs, employees in mainland China and Hong Kong will be offered a chance to take an additional 12 days’ holiday in the coming months, of which eight of them will be unpaid. The company is also launching a […]

China Agrees to “Look But Don’t Touch” PCAOB Visits

Board member Lewis Ferguson tells of China's teasing ways in a speech that he's giving at the California State University SEC Financial Reporting Conference in Irvine: As a first step toward further cooperation [with China], we are working toward and have tentatively agreed on observational visits where PCAOB inspectors would observe the Chinese authorities conducting […]

Grant Thornton Is the Latest Firm to Join the Chinese Auditor Resignation Jamboree

SGOCO Group, Ltd. issued a press release this morning to let everyone know that Grant Thornton's Chinese affiliate decided to take a walk on May 14th. They disclosed this with the SEC around 10 am on Friday, but with the Facebook circus going on, no one noticed. What's interesting is that the company filed Form […]

Big 4 Firms Are Totally Down with China Locals Taking the Wheel

As you may have heard, the Chinese government has told the Big 4 that they only want homers running their audit firms that are located within the Big C. While you might think that this might be problematic – what with all the troubles over there – the Big 4 obviously saw this coming because not […]

BDO Joins the Auditor Resignation Party

The firm has had about all the fun it can handle trying to audit Chaoda Modern Agriculture. In a statement Thursday, Chaoda said that in a letter on Apr. 26, BDO said that despite continuing with the audit for a prolonged period, it was not in a position to conclude. It said the move was […]

Auditing in China Sounds Like Pure Hell

Muddy Waters Director of Research, Carson Block wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal today and he sheds some light on problems that Big 4 auditors are facing in China. And from the sounds of it, if you're used to the auditing standards in the west, then you have your work cut out for […]

Is the Next Wave of Auditor Resignations Coming?

Floyd Norris notes: Several Chinese companies that are registered in the United States missed the May 1 deadline for filing their annual reports and received two-week extensions. There are many reasons that a company’s report can be delayed, but given the recent history there is speculation that one or more companies might be fighting with […]

Anyone Wanna Try and Ballpark the Number of Auditor Resignations From Chinese-listed Companies for 2012?

Earlier today we learned that Deloitte resigned as the auditor of Daqing Dairy Holdings Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed Chinese company. It was notable because this is the second resignation for Deloitte in [counting on fingers] seven days! That's not good! The other one was "baby products maker" and licenser of Harry Potter and Bob the […]

Oh Great, Now The Chinese Pass the CMA Exam Better Than We Do

And it's probably just a matter of time before they start winning all the Elijah Watt Sells awards. Here's the ICMA with the spectacular news: Of the approximately 4,200 individuals who took the two-part CMA exam during the September/October 2011 testing period, medals were awarded to the following individuals for their exceptional performance:   Wen […]

PCAOB Has an Extra $20 Million to Spend on Field Trips to China

PCAOB Chairman James Doty shot the breeze with the SEC for awhile today, speaking about, among other things, how the Board would handle this boatload of Chinese filers who don't seem to know their asses from their elbows when it comes to accounting and their auditors who are similarly clueless. Doty assured the Commission that […]

Judge Would Like Someone To Look Her in the Eye and Explain Why Deloitte Isn’t Complying with a SEC Subpoena in Relation to a Company That Held Audit Workpapers Hostage

Remember Longtop Finanical? That's the Hong Kong-based company that Deloitte kicked to the curb last May for a number of sketchy reasons that included the "the unlawful detention of DTT's audit files." We came to learn later that not only were the precious audit files taken hostage but that Deloitte auditors were thisclose to becoming hostages themeselves. […]

CEO Finds KPMG Hong Kong Auditors to Be Arrogant, Incompetent, Ignorant, Indifferent OH! And Unprofessional, Can’t Forget Unprofessional

It's not really that odd that someone would sue an auditor for $100 million. It's also not unusual that a company (usually through some PR flak) would publicly rebuke the auditor in a news report or press release. What is unique is a company issuing a press release announcing their lawsuit against their audit firm that […]

Focus Media Management: Muddy Waters Has It All Wrong, Should Be Sued For Being a Rumor Monger

Focus Media Chief Financial Officer Kit Low disputed Muddy Waters’ claims on a conference call Tuesday with analysts, saying that the firm’s report misinterpreted LCD-display numbers and financial data. He said Muddy Waters concentrated largely on Focus Media’s mergers and acquisitions, but the company hasn’t made any “major acquisitions in the past three years” because it is putting more emphasis on its core business. Focus Media Chief Executive Jason Jiang criticized short-sellers in a message posted on his verified account on China’s Sina Weibo microblog service. “Why isn’t anyone suing these short sellers who are just spreading malicious rumors everywhere?” the message said. “These people should be punished according to the law!!!” [WSJ]

Report: Chinese Government Asking Big 4 Firms to Take Another Look at Their Audits

The request, sources said, is seen as a direct response to the move by the U.S. regulators in the case of scandal-hit Longtop Financial Technologies Ltd, and to ensure that firms do not succumb to pressure to hand over documents to regulators outside of China. Last month the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asked an American court to enforce a subpoena it sent to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu’s China practice for documents from its audit of Longtop.Two sources from the audit industry told Reuters that the Ministry of Finance and China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) met last week with the so-called ‘Big Four’ audit firms — KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Deloitte — along with two smaller firms. The firms were requested by the government to conduct an urgent review of all audits they had done on U.S.-listed Chinese firms in 2010 along with work on U.S. initial public offerings by Chinese companies. [Reuters]

Muddy Waters CEO: There Are Some Big 4 Partners in China Conspiring to Defraud Investors

As you probably heard, the PCAOB officially put out a proposal earlier this week for audit partners to be named in the annual reports of public companies. It would also require “registered firms to disclose the name of the engagement partner for each audit report already requirethe form” and “disclosure in the audit report of other accounting firms and certain other participants that took part in the audit.”

While most Big 4 audit partners are probably feeling a little chapped by this whole proposal, there is at least one person going on record (by way of PCAOB comment letter) that feels that it doesn’t go far enough. That would be Carson Block, the CEO and founder of research firm Muddy Waters. In Block’s letter (in full on page 2) to the Board he writes that not only should the engagement partner be identified but that he or she should be putting their name on the audit opinion because “[it] will decrease investors’ future losses to fraud and gimmicky accounting by billions of dollars.”

That on it’s own is enough to get more than a few people riled up. But as we indicated, there are some conspiracy and fraud accusations as well:

Even the most reputable auditors in China seem to be in a race to the bottom. We believe that there are particularly egregious situations in which some Big Four partners in China offices have actually conspired with their clients to defraud investors. Further, it is a reasonable proposition that the conflict of interest inherent in the Chinese auditors’ business model also affects the quality of US company audits.

Now before your knickers in a twist, don’t forget that this is the guy who called Sino-Forest a “Ponzi Scheme for the 23rd Century” which more or less looks to be accurate. Further, if you consider all the trouble Big 4 firms have had with Chinese companies listed in the U.S. and elsewhere, it doesn’t seem to be that much of a stretch that some partners would just say fuck it and work with their clients to keep a lid on the shenanigans than go through the pain of actually doing their jobs.

Regardless, with these accusations the PCAOB may try to make another run at getting the Chinese to play ball.


Carson Block 102011

Chinese Gold Company ‘Respects’ Deloitte’s Decision to Kick Them to the Curb

Your auditor-of-a-Chinese-company-resignation news du jour:

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd , the world’s largest accounting and consulting firm, has resigned as auditors of Hong Kong-listed Real Gold Mining , more than four months after the Inner Mongolian miner was reported to have filed conflicting accouting [sic] reports.

Real Gold, which halted trading in its shares on May 27. is under investigation by the Securities and Futures Commission for corporate governance breaches. The miner’s announcement to the Hong Kong stock exchange late on Thursday said it was looking for a replacement for Deloitte, which resigned on October 12.

“The company is disappointed that Deloitte has decided to resign at this time but respects its decision,” the firm said.

Deloitte resigns as auditors of China gold firm [Reuters]

China Freaks Out Over Five CPA Exam Questions Illegally Posted to the Internet

Can you guys imagine what would happen if this were to go down in the good old USA?

According to China Daily, answers to China’s national accounting exam (similar to the CPA exam in that it’s an exam professional accountants take to work in accounting, duh) were leaked over the Internet last week and some are concerned that this unfortunate turn of events might erode trust in the exam and – worse – the profession. As if China’s sketchy accounting practices didn’t already achieve as much.


Answers were posted to an Internet forum just before the 2011 Chinese National Uniform CPA Examination was to be taken on September 17 and 18.

Here in America, CPA review providers are given retired CPA exam questions to distribute to their students but are not allowed to share actual exam content. Not like they’d know what’s on the exam anyway – many major review course providers haven’t taken the CPA exam in 10, 15 or even 20 years. Back in those days, they’d hand out copies of old exams to study. Like actual exams. Since the CPA review crew is a close-knit bunch of OGs, it’s highly unlikely that any one of them would risk their close relationship with the AICPA to hand out exam questions to needy students.

In China, a former writer of architect exam questions was sentenced to 18 months in prison for leaking state secrets after he was caught giving his students copies of exam questions during tutorials. Different world, eh?

Anyway, according to the few Chinese media reports we’ve seen, five audit multiple choice questions and answers were posted to the Internet and the Chinese CPA exam folks are understandably in a tizzy over this. To put it in perspective, their audit section consists 47 questions worth a total of 105 points, and candidates must answer at least 60 correct to pass. So really? Five questions?

That’s not all. Apparently some candidates received texts asking if they might be interested in, er, peeking at the upcoming exams’ content.

“I began to receive at least five text messages a day selling exam questions a month before the exam took place. All of them claimed they could provide genuine questions and answers. They also promised a full refund if the questions were not genuine,” 28 year-old Zhu Hua told China Daily. “I wonder how they got my number in the first place, because I only provided my contact information when I registered for the exam.”

Was this an inside job?

The Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA) has sworn to conduct an investigation into the leaks and to prosecute anyone found to have leaked this information to the full extent of the law. Prepare for hangings, people, this is serious shit.

You May Now Commence Wild-ass Theories as to Who Wants to Break Up the Big 4

“Breaking up the Big Four audit firms would make them more susceptible to be taken over by emerging Chinese firms,” a UK audit official said on Tuesday on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivities involved. [ET via Francine McKenna]

Silvercorp Metals CEO Reminds Everyone That They’re a ‘Real Company’

As we’ve discussed, Silvercorp Metals hasn’t appreciated the anonymous letters floating around the Series of Tubes accusing the Canadian miner of accounting fraud and has stated that, save their assets in China, “this wouldn’t be happening.” What the company would really like is for these jerks to show themselves and cooperate with investigators. But until that happens, Silvercorp hired KPMG to poke around to calm all the fears out there. According to reports, the House of Klynveld will have a report out soon but in the meantime, Silvercorp CEO Feng Rui will address everyone who thinks that his company is just a bunch of Tonka trucks in a sandbox:

“We’re a real company and will fight against shorters and distorters,” Feng Rui, Silvercorp chief executive officer, said today at a meeting in Beijing.

Furthermore, the auditors in this matter, Ernst & Young, have carried out their duties to a T and if you think some bullshit letters are going to cause them (or Feng & Co.) to do things differently, you’d be wrong:

“Our auditing doesn’t have anything wrong, the allegations are fabrication,” Feng said today in an interview on the sidelines of the meeting.[…] “The allegations won’t prompt us to make any changes in the process of financial reporting and auditing,” he said

Frankly, it’s embarrassing that they even have to address this but you’ve given them no choice.

Silvercorp Says KPMG to Issue Fraud Allegation Report ‘Soon’ [Bloomberg]

Silvercorp Metals Chairman Would Like These Gutless, Anonymous Letter-Writing Short-sellers to Man Up and Show Their Faces

A couple of weeks ago, Silvercorp Metals responded to an anonymous letter that alleged that the company was engaged in some dodgy accounting practices. Understandably, the company was irked by this little stunt, responding that it was complete BS and due to some short-sellers trying to take advantage of the rash of sketchy accounting scandals involving companies that have a connection to China.

Now, a second anonymous letter has appeared and the company is again going on a PR offensive to calm everyone down because, really you guys, nothing is fucked here and that these reptiles need to come out and start cooperating with investigators if they’re really concerned about things outside their wallets. And so everyone gets the message loud and clear, this was not delivered by some everyday flak but by the Chairman of the company, Dr. Rui Feng:

“I ask shareholders to exercise common sense in assessing whether these allegations of “fraud” against the Company have any merit whatsoever in the face of very significant revenues, tax payments and dividends, and particularly when the accusations are made anonymously by parties whose only interest is in depressing the Company’s share price. I invite the authors of the anonymous allegations to come out of the shadows and participate with the regulators in their investigations, if their concerns truly extend beyond the profitability of their short positions.”

Furthermore, the company’s independent committee has engaged a KPMG Forensic team to help get to the bottom of this. And they certainly know the traits of fraudsters when they see them. Everyone just chill out.

[via Silvercorp Metals]

PCAOB, Possibly Fed Up with China’s Stonewalling, Goes After Some Low-Hanging Fruit

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today announced a cooperative agreement with the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway for the oversight of audit work performed by public accounting firms that practice in the two regulators’ respective jurisdictions. “With this agreement, Norway’s FSA and the PCAOB are joining forces to improve audit quality and protect investors,” said PCAOB Chairman James R. Doty. “I am pleased that the PCAOB is continuing to make progress in overcoming the obstacles that have in the past prevented PCAOB inspections in Europe.” [PCAOB]

Deloitte All of a Sudden Caught in an Awkward Three-way with SEC, Chinese Regulators

“This is one of the biggest battlegrounds in the transnational regulation of accounting firms,” said Paul Gillis, a visiting professor of accounting at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management. “Deloitte is between a rock and a hard place. This is a major escalation.” [WSJ, Earlier]

SEC Not Amused By Deloitte’s Failure to Produce Documents Related to Company That Held Their Audit Workpapers Hostage

Remember Longtop Financial Technologies? Deloitte resigned as auditors of the Chinese company back in May after LFT took some actions that were, shall we say, unusual for an audit client. Among them, “interference by certain members of Longtop management in DTT’s audit process; and […] the unlawful detention of DTT’s audit files.” And there may be some financial statement fraud going on, to boot. What’s even slightly weirder is Deloitte’s resignt to Longtop’s Audit Committee that laid out the specifics:

[A]s a result of intervention by the Company’s officials including the Chief Operating Officer, the confirmation process was stopped amid serious and troubling new developments including: calls to banks by the Company asserting that Deloitte was not their auditor; seizure by the Company’s staff of second round bank confirmation documentation on bank premises; threats to stop our staff leaving the Company premises unless they allowed the Company to retain our audit files then on the premises; and then seizure by the Company of certain of our working papers.

Right. The auditors-almost-taken-hostage situation. Quite a doozy, this one. Based on the history between Deloitte and Longtop, one would think that Green Dot would jump at any chance to exact a little revenge on these shady bastards. NOPE!


From the
crack squad at the SEC:

The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed a subpoena enforcement action against Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd. for failing to produce documents related to the SEC’s investigation into possible fraud by the Shanghai-based public accounting firm’s longtime client Longtop Financial Technologies Limited.

According to the SEC’s application and supporting papers filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the SEC issued a subpoena on May 27, 2011, and D&T Shanghai was required to produce documents by July 8, 2011. Although D&T Shanghai is in possession of vast amounts of documents responsive to the subpoena, it has not produced any documents to the SEC to date. As a result, the Commission is unable to gain access to information that is critical to an investigation that has been authorized for the protection of public investors.

“Compliance with an SEC subpoena is not an option, it is a legal obligation,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “The ability of the SEC to conduct swift and thorough investigations requires that subpoena recipients promptly comply with that legal obligation. Subpoena recipients who refuse to comply should expect serious legal consequences.”

Maybe the email/hand-written letter sent by carrier pigeon (whatever method of communication the Commission is using these days) got lost OR maybe no one at Deloitte Shanghai was in the translating mood that day but it seems slightly strange that Deloitte would just blow this off especially since Longtop screwed them 70 ways to Sunday. Of course these documents could show that Deloitte was really a bunch of pansies and we’re letting LFT run the show until the gross negligence got to the point that they simply couldn’t ignore it anymore. It’s anybody’s guess, really.

UPDATE: The Journal reports that Deloitte claims to be “caught in the middle of conflicting demands by two government regulators,” which could be seen as extremely convenient.

SEC Files Subpoena Enforcement Action Against Deloitte & Touche in Shanghai [SEC]
Court Filing [SEC]
Also see: S.E.C. Asks Court to Force a Release of Papers From China [NYT]

Big 4 Hiring Watch: PwC Going on the Offensive in China

You may remember that the Big 4 have BIG plans to go on a hiring binge here in the States and around the globe over the next few years. Just last year, Deloitte announced that they were adding 250,000 new employees over the next five years (although we were a bit skeptical as to what the final numbers would actually shake out). The latest in job creation PR, comes from PwC who has announced that they will be adding 15,000 new professionals in Hong Kong and China:

Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers plans to hire 15,000 graduates and experienced professionals over the next five years in China and Hong Kong, it said Tuesday, as it capitalizes on growing business opportunities in the region, particularly mainland China.

The Big-Four firm said the new hires will be “across all lines of service,” adding it hopes to recruit more than 2,000 university graduates in the coming months in Hong Kong and China. The company is conducting campus recruitment in Hong Kong and three mainland Chinese cities this month.

Adding to this glowing news was Fitch Rating’s vote of confidence in the Big 4 who “should inspire confidence in terms of corporate governance” in Chinese companies. Right. Because it’s been clockwork so far.

PricewaterhouseCoopers: To Hire 15,000 In HK, Mainland Over Next 5 Years [Dow Jones]

Silvercorp Metals Asks That You Not Believe Anonymous Letters Alleging Accounting Fraud Just Because They Have Assets in China

As we’ve discussed, companies listed on North American stock exchanges that happen to have ties to China haven’t faired too well. The problem? Some dodgy accounting and disclosures. It’s caused a lot of angst amongst investors and there was enough concern that someone actually decided to wake up the PCAOB and SEC to let them know that something might not quite right over there.

Today’s news that Silvercorp Metals, a Canadian mining company who happens to do some work in China, is the subject of a letter that is making the rounds alleging accounting fraud probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone but it sure has irked the hell out of the company.

The allegations against Silvercorp are “entirely bogus,” Lorne Waldman, a Silvercorp spokesman, said today in a telephone interview. “If we didn’t have assets in China this wouldn’t be happening.”

And while they’re at it, the company will have you know that they were not created in a one those so-called reverse mergers that have everyone sketched out.

Waldman denied the mining company was created in a so- called reverse takeover, as was Sino-Forest. He said that Silvercorp’s auditor is Ernst & Young LLP, the same firm that audited Sino-Forest’s financial statements.

Oh, right. Ernst & Young. There’s no cause for concern since they’ve seen this before so they’ll probably just sit tight to see what happens. The silver lining for Silvercorp is that Roddy Boyd has written anything about them. Yet.

Silvercorp Says Accounting-Fraud Allegation in Anonymous Letter Is False [Bloomberg]

Ernst & Young Aware of This Sino-Forest Situation, Seems Content to Watch It Play Out

Jonathan Weil has a column today on the train wreck that is Sino-Forest, the Chinese-Canadian timber company. In case you need caught up, there have been some questions about the company’s ability to report accurate disclosures and accounting. This led the research firm Muddy Waters to issue a not-so-flattering analysis of the company. Things like “Ponzi scheme” and “investing for the 23rd Century” don’t exactly get people jumping up and down for your company. Ask John Paulson.

Of course Sino-Forest didn’t do this all by themselves. They had credit rating agencies and auditors telling them everything was hunky dory for years and that’s Weil’s point. He reports that Fitch pulled its rating on S-F back in July and S&P finally pulled their rating this week. That just leaves Moody’s but guess who else is still hanging in there? Ernst & Young, baby! They’re still standing behind their audit opinions and showing no sign of budging. And JW is really curious to know who’s going to jump out of this tree first.

One question lingers: Which of the company’s paid opinion merchants will be the last to step aside? Will it be a credit rater? Or will it be the company’s auditor, Ernst & Young LLP in Toronto, which has yet to rescind any of its reports on Sino-Forest’s finances?

So far Ernst looks like the favorite, with only one rating company left in the hunt. Think of it as a contest between giant tortoises to see which one is slower. This time-honored ritual — of market gatekeepers waiting to blow the whistle until long after a scam has been exposed — has become so familiar, we might as well revel in the spectacle.

So these “gatekeepers” Weil speaks of – obviously this includes the Big 4. And it’s true that we’re all used to them waving their arms, screaming “DANGER!” in front of the burning heap that everyone has been aware of for ages (I didn’t say Lehman Brothers. Did you say Lehman Brothers? Who said Lehman Brothers?).

ANYWAY, E&Y should know that they have choices:

Ernst does have options, aside from bracing for the inevitable years of litigation and investigations. It could resign, explain why it is doing so and face criticism for acting too late. It could withdraw its previous audit opinions. It could insist to Sino-Forest’s directors that it be permitted to answer questions from the public about the work it has performed, as a condition of remaining onboard. Or it could hang on in silence, as it’s doing now, and watch its reputation endure more damage.

Could be that this is just another part of E&Y’s strategy. Sit tight while things play out, wait until things get really serious (i.e. bankruptcy, severe economic turmoil, civil charges, etc. etc.) and then come out swinging.

Tree Falls on Sino-Forest, Auditor Can’t Hear It [Bloomberg]

When Booking Bogus Revenue, Ideally Your CFO Is the Type to Not Give a Rat’s Ass

James Li and David Chow used to run a shop called Syntax-Brillian Company as the CEO and Chief Procurement Officer respectively. They sold high-def, LCD TVs under the Olevia brand in China. Problem was, they didn’t really sell TVs under the Olevia brand in China. According to the SEC:

[F]rom at least June 2006 through April 2008, Li and Chow engaged in a complex scheme to overstate Syntax’s financial results by publicly reporting significant sales of LCD televisions in China, when in fact the vast majority of these sales never occurred. Li and Chow initially concealed the scheme through the use of fake shipping and sales documents.

Of course, they couldn’t do it alone. They needed a CFO. A CFO who would backdate things when asked and ignore obvious signs of bogus revenue. That man was Wayne Pratt who, from the sounds of it, wasn’t too concerned about ANYTHING:

The SEC alleges that Wayne Pratt, Syntax’s Chief Financial Officer, ignored red flags of improper revenue recognition and participated in preparing backdated documentation that was provided to Syntax’s auditors to support fictitious fiscal 2006 year-end sales. Pratt also ignored indications of impaired assets, agency sales, and potential collectability issues.

So, budding criminals, get on the look out for a guy/gal who is accustomed to shrugging their shoulders and responding “Meh. Whatever.” to your demands. Should work out well for you.

Litigation Release [SEC]
Complaint [SEC]

Becker Partners With GE China to Deliver CPA Review To Its Employees

With GE slowly but surely shipping most of its important business over to the People’s Republic of China, this could work out to be quite the lucrative deal for the folks at Becker.

Becker Professional Education announced last week that it has entered into an agreement with GE China to provide, through its licensee in the People’s Republic of China, its complete, four part CPA Exam Review course to GE employees in the People’s Republic of China. Becker will also be providing extensive assistance with the CPA Exam application process to GE China employees.

“This partnership represents a tremendous opportunity for Becker to expand our leading international position with a strong partner in GE China,” said Matt Kinnich, Vice President, International and Business Development of Becker Professional Education. “We will be able to help a great number of GE China employees achieve their career goals through our quality course offerings.”

What this means, in simpler terms, is that some guys in China will be authorized to teach out of Becker books, likely using Becker’s own “lesson plan” text which all Becker instructors receive to teach from. I wonder if they’ll edit out some of the written-in jokes to translate for a Chinese audience?

Becker already offers live courses in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.

Today in Sketchy Chinese Company News: Ernst & Young Suspends Audit of Zungui Haixi

It’s been quite the year for the Chinese-based, reverse-merger clients of accounting firms. There have been curious press releases, audit workpapers held hostage, and the run-of-the-mill blowing off of auditor recommendations among other things. With all that, you probably figured the fun was over.

Not so! The latest in China-doesn’t-really-know-what-the-hell-it’s-doing news is the report that Ernst & Young has walked out on Zungui Haixi, an athletic footwear and apparel company listed in Canada. Why? Well, it’s not really clear but it sounds like Zungui has some explaining to do:

Zungui said auditor Ernst & Young LLP has advised its board that its has suspended its audit for the year ended June 30, 2011, until the company “clarifies and substantiates its position with respect to issues pertaining to the current and prior year”.

Ernst & Young recommended that the issues identified be addressed by an independent investigation, the company said in a brief statement that did not provide any details on the issues.

As we all know, “issues” could be just about anything from missing cash, to a CFO resigning. Hopefully it’s nothing quite so serious and the crack squad of investigators assigned to the task will get to the bottom of it and not wait for Roddy Boyd to pick it up.

Zungui Haixi shares tumble after E&Y suspends audit [Reuters]

Harbin Electric’s Ability to Timely File Financial Statements with the SEC Falls on One Lonely CPA

Today in odd things found in SEC filings, we were pointed to this 10-Q from Harbin Electric, Inc., “a Nevada Corporation, incorporated on July 9, 2003.” However, this gives you a little better idea about what Harbin’s business is:

Through its subsidiaries, the Company designs, develops, engineers, manufactures, sells and services a wide array of electric motors including linear motors, specialty micro-motors, and industrial rotary motors, with focus on innovation, creativity, and value-added products. Products are sold in China and to certain international markets.

There it is! Another reverse merger company operation. Of course, this could be a completely legitimate business that is making money hand over fist but if Roddy Boyd is writing about you, that could be a bad sign. But that’s neither here nor there. One interesting thing we found in the company’s Q is just how much the company depends on their SEC Reporting Manager (I’ve added some italics for emphasis):

We rely on the services of our SEC reporting manager to assist us in researching and resolving certain US GAAP accounting issues and preparing our consolidated financial statements.

We employ an SEC Reporting Manager who is a Certified Public Accountant in the United States to assist our internal accounting and finance personnel in resolving complex US GAAP accounting issues. From time to time we rely on her to conduct research on complex accounting issues relating to US GAAP and to provide advice to the Company as to how to comply with US GAAP. Although our SEC Reporting Manager is not involved in our day to day operations or the management of our accounting functions, she also assists us in our consolidation process and in preparing our consolidated financial statements and footnotes. If we were to lose the services of our SEC Reporting Manager, we would attempt to hire another similarly qualified person to replace her. The loss of the services of our SEC Reporting Manager, in the absence of a qualified replacement, could adversely impact our ability to accurately prepare our consolidated financial statements on a timely basis.

There’s really no way to know who this poor, lonely SEC Reporting Manager is but based on the disclosure, it seems pretty clear that if she were to meet with an unfortunate accident, Harbin would be up shit creek without a paddle (and there’s probably a hole in the boat).

Why, exactly, isn’t there an intern, temp, custodian, someone, ANYONE that serves as the backup QB? This is not immediately known. Perhaps the company broke the piggy bank paying for the reverse merger but it seems prudent that they at least throw in Ms. SEC Reporting Manager’s best girlfriend from high school or something.

Of course if you’re job hunting and have a decent résumé, you could always ring them up.

China Calls For a New International Reserve Currency That Isn’t the Dollar (Again)

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research writes via Business Insider:

The NYT told readers that:

“Beijing has few options other than to continue to purchase United States Treasury bonds, Chinese officials are clearly concerned that China’s substantial holdings of American debt, worth at least $1.1 trillion, is being devalued.”

Both parts of this statement are wrong. Beijing has the option to stop buying dollars from its exporters. The reason that the government accumulates dollars and other foreign currencies is that it buys the currency from the companies who are exporting to the United States and other countries.

If Chinese officials were that concerned about it, they wouldn’t keep selling us their useless crap, thereby continuing the vicious cycle of being forced to “cash out” in Treasurys on the difference. If we as Americans were that concerned about it, we’d stop buying the useless crap. Like the “Presidents of the United States” mugs I bought this weekend, which happened to have “Made in China” stickers slapped on the bottom.

On Saturday, after S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating to AA+ (pretty sure you guys heard about that), Chinese officials said Washington needed to “cure its addiction to debts” and “live within its means,” harsh words considering our living beyond our means has been the main driver of China’s explosive growth in the last decade. ““The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone,” read the statement, released by state-run Xinhua news.

“China, the largest creditor of the world’s sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China’s dollar assets,” it said.

Wrong. The Federal Reserve is the largest creditor of the world’s former superpower (that’s us), and according to them, we can’t inflate fast enough.

“International supervision over the issue of U.S. dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country,” Xinhua said.

Notice a pattern here yet? GAAP isn’t good enough, we need the IASB to tell us how to recognize leases. Now the dollar isn’t good enough. Not that it ever was, at least not in my lifetime or yours.

Better learn Chinese, people.

PCAOB, SEC to Be All Up in China’s Business Next Week

Perhaps you’ve heard that some U.S.-listed Chinese companies have had some trouble with their financial reporting. Often times this leads to CFOs quitting, auditors resigning or workpapers being held hostage. None of which are good. Occurrences such as these have been going on for a little while and more recently the SEC admitted that they had, in fact, heard something about it. Perhaps even more surprisingly, a Chinese official also confessed that some of these companies weren’t exactly on top of their shit and in some may not have the faintest idea of what they’re doing.

All this excitement has finally gotten the teams at the SEC and PCAOB worked up enough that it has been decided that they’re popping over to Beijing to meet with the country’s Ministry of Finance and the China Securities Regulatory Commission next Monday and Tuesday to see what’s what.

“This meeting is the commencement of our accelerated efforts with the People’s Republic of China to forge a cooperative resolution to cross-border auditing oversight. I believe we share a common objective with Chinese regulators to protect investors and safeguard audit quality through our mutual cooperation,” said James R. Doty, PCAOB Chairman.

The delegation will be led by Board Member Lewis H. Ferguson and include staff from the PCAOB’s Office of International Affairs and Division of Registration and Inspections, and the SEC Office of International Affairs and Office of the Chief Accountant. The delegation will meet with senior leadership of the Ministry of Finance and the CSRC.

“The purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity to exchange information about how each country conducts inspections of auditing firms and to move toward a bilateral agreement providing for joint inspections of China-based auditing firms registered with the PCAOB,” said PCAOB Board Member Ferguson.

Reuters reports that Ferguson considers the trip a “confidence-building exercise,” just in case you were still a little queasy on Sino-Forest, et al.

Statement on Delegation to China [PCAOB]
U.S. audit watchdog, SEC plan Beijing visit [Reuters]

Chinese Official: Some Companies Listed in U.S. Have ‘Flaws,’ May Not Know What the Hell They’re Doing

We understand that complying with financial reporting in the U.S. can be difficult, so don’t get too worried about it. But we do ask that you keep the workpaper hostage taking to a minimum.

China is looking into accounting issues involving Chinese companies listed in North America, an official at the country’s securities regulator said in the watchdog’s first public remarks since a series of accounting scandals. Corporate misbehaviour, unfamiliarity with the U.S. market and some practices involved in overseas listings had all contributed to recent investor distrust of Chinese companies, said Wang Ou, vice head of research at the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). “First, we have to admit that some of our companies may have flaws. Second, our (companies’) understanding of the U.S. market and the measures to tackle risk there may be inadequate,” Wang said at a conference in Beijing this weekend. “We have contacts with the U.S. and its relevant regulatory bodies and we’re studying the issue together.”

Oh, and it isn’t necessary to issue a press release when your auditor ties out your cash balances.

[via Reuters]

Yes, the SEC *Has* Heard About the Trend of Accounting Problems at Reverse Merger Companies

The Securities and Exchange Commission warned investors about the risk of fraud, accounting problems and other abuses at companies that obtain stock listings through so-called reverse mergers.

The warning on Thursday comes amid a rash of accounting scandals involving China-based companies listed on U.S. exchanges through reverse mergers, or mergers with U.S. shell companies. “Many companies either fail or struggle to remain viable following a reverse merger,” the SEC said in an investor bulletin. Investors should be especially wary of reverse merger operating companies that are “nonreporting,” meaning they are not required to file reports with the SEC, the agency said. “Keep in mind that information from online blogs, social networking sites and even a company’s own website may be inaccurate and sometimes intentionally misleading,” the SEC said. [Reuters]

Weikang Bio-Technology Felt Compelled to Issue a Press Release Announcing that Grant Thornton Successfully Verified Their Cash Balances with Bank Statements

Chinese companies certainly have had their share of problems with financial reporting in the U.S. but I had no idea that it would come to this.

The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of Weikang Bio-Technology Group Co., Inc. (OTC Markets: WKBT.PK – News) (“WKBT,” “Weikang” or the “Company”), a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Western prescription and OTC pharmaceuticals and other health and nutritional products in the People’s Republic of China, today announced that Grant Thornton (“GT”), one of the world’s leading organizations of independently owned and managed accounting and consulting firms, has verified that the cash amounts listed on the Company’s SEC filings for 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 are consistent with account statements obtained from WKBT’s banks directly by GT.

“Given the recent change in auditors and my new chairmanship of the WKBT Audit Committee, we authorized the Grant Thornton review to take place last week, and are now releasing the results,” said Jeffery Chuang, independent director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of WKBT. “Weikang continues to advance as a U.S. publicly-traded company and we are committed to high standards in the thoroughness of our financial information,” said Mr. Chuang, a U.S. CPA who is based in Southern California.

Obviously this is completely harmless compared to, say, threatening to take auditors hostage but as far as giant wastes of time go, it’s right near the top.

Chinese Company Wraps Themselves in the Security Blanket That Is an Unqualified Audit Opinion From PwC

You may have noticed that a number of Chinese companies have had some issues with their accounting. This typically leads to the company’s auditor quitting, the CFO resigning, an SEC filing explaining all of it and then the revelation of some embarrassing details to accompany it all. Like a video of company’s employees sleeping. Or taking audit workpapers hostage. The best part about these stories is that the companies typically go on the defensive, and some make claims about their prestigious auditors just moments before the shit hits the fan.

Today we bring you Li & Fung, Ltd., a supply chain manager out of Hong Kong. L&F has reacted to a recent report from UBS that has…wait…yes, called attention to an accounting change and that “the company’s future GAAP earnings might not fully reflect the profitability of operations and that the new revenue recognition policy may distort a declining margin trend.”

Li & Fung has reacted right on cue:

“These statements are misleading,” Company Secretary Terry Wan said in the statement.

“The company has disclosed the relevant accounting policies in note 1.1 of its 2010 accounts, which have been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers and are in full compliance with the HKFRS (Hong Kong Financial Reporting Standards),” Wan said.

Li & Fung: UBS Report On Firm’s Accounting Policies Not Factually Accurate [Dow Jones]

Auditor Resignation Du Jour: Deloitte Didn’t Appreciate Their Audit Files Being Held Hostage

And yes the perpetrator, Longtop Financial Technologies, is a Chinese company.

As we mentioned, Deloitte had some decent reasons for kicking LFT to curb, among them:

(1) the recently identified falsity of the Company’s financial records in relation to cash at bank and loan balances (and possibly in sales revenue); (2) the deliberate interference by certain members of Longtop management in DTT’s audit process; and (3) the unlawful detention of DTT’s audit files. DTT further stated that DTT was no longer able to rely on management’s representations in relation to prior period financial reports, that continued reliance should no longer be placed on DTT’s audit reports on the previous financial statements, and DTT declined to be associated with any of the Company’s financial communications in 2010 and 2011.

And because it seems to be the standard narrative in stories such as these, Longtop’s CFO has resigned and “The Audit Committee has also initiated a search for a new auditor.” Although were not sure if there’s a firm out there that will pick up a client who has engaged in hostage taking.

[via Longtop Financial Technologies]

Today in Chinese Company Auditor Resignations: KPMG Doesn’t Appreciate Being Ignored

The House of Klynveld resigned as the auditor Shanghai-based ShengdaTech, Inc. effective April 29th after less than three years. According to the 8-K filed yesterday, KPMG was none too impressed with management blowing off their concerns:

KPMG previously informed the Company’s Audit Committee of certain concerns arising during its incomplete audits of the Company’s consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2010, and the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2010. These concerns included serious discrepancies and unexplained issues relating to, among others: (i) the Company’s bank balances; (ii) transactions with major suppliers; (iii) VAT invoices and payments; (iv) sales and payments for sales by third parties; (v) sales to the Company’s second largest customer; (vi) discrepancies between KPMG’s direct calls to customers and confirmations returned by mail; and (vii) concerns raised by directly confirming customer sales and accounts receivables.

In a letter dated April 19, 2011, KPMG informed the board of directors of the Company that in KPMG’s view the Company’s senior management has not taken, and the board of directors has not caused senior management to take, timely and appropriate remedial actions with respect to these discrepancies and/or issues, and KPMG stated that the continued lack of resolution of the issues would materially impact the financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2010 and possibly prior periods.

And as you might expect, this resulted in KPMG taking its audit reports and going home:

On April 29, 2011, we were also informed by KPMG, our former independent accounting firm, that disclosures should be made and action should be taken to prevent future reliance on their previously issued audit reports related to the consolidated balance sheets of ShengdaTech, Inc. and its subsidiaries as of December 31, 2008 and 2009, and the related consolidated statements of income, shareholders’ equity and comprehensive income, and cash flows for the years then ended and the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2008 and 2009.

8-K [SEC via ShengdaTech]

PwC Provides Background, Q&A in Response to Reports on Shanghai Associate’s Death

It’s been just over two weeks since the death of Angela Pan, an audit associate in PwC’s Shanghai office. One report of her death have quoted doctors stating that “Based on her symptoms and her low white blood cell count, it’s reasonable to conclude that overwork led to a weakened immune system, which makes her more vulnerable to infections.” It was also reported she told a friend she was working 18-hour days and about 120 hours a week prior to her sickness and death. However, Shanghaiist (yes, that’s the Gothamist for Shanghai) published a portion of a statement from PwC that stated that Angela died from viral encephalitis not acute cerebral meningitis as had been reported. An internal email from PwC in China found its way into our inbox late last week and it seems to echo the press release and provides other details.

[Ed. note: the second paragraph included HR and press contacts for those needing them so I’ve omitted those here. It did state that the information should only “be communicated verbally.”]

The date on the email was April 20th and the Shanghaiist article is dated April 15th, so whether this communiqué provides additional details, it isn’t entirely clear. The most confusing statement for me in this email is “as a sign of respect to Angela and her family, we have made a decision not to clarify the misreporting in the media at this time.” Seems to me that the respectful thing would be to correct the “misrepresented” facts if they are in fact correct. Of course this is happening in China where we can only assume what qualifies as a “respectful” action might differ from what is respectful in the U.S. Regardless, it’s terribly unfortunate that a young woman’s death had to serve as a reminder for everyone to take a closer look at their own health and behavior, as well as how culture and working environment may cause some to feel pressure to be at work when they shouldn’t.

Did a PwC Auditor Work Herself to Death?

Pan Jie was a 25 year-old auditor in PwC’s Shanghai office, starting her career with the firm last October. She died of acute cerebral meningitis on April 10th, having “ignored the illness until a fever surged,” after catching the flu on March 31st. Reports have stated that Jie told a friend that “she had been working up to 18 hours a day and about 120 hours a week,” prior to her death.


A doctor quoted by one of the reports explained the cause:

Dr Wang Guisong, an expert in the neurosurgery department at Renji Hospital, said overwork can make people more vulnerable to infections. “Based on her symptoms and her low white blood cell count, it’s reasonable to conclude that overwork led to a weakened immune system, which makes her more vulnerable to infections,” Wang said. “When an infection worsens over time, people can develop acute cerebral meningitis.”

According to the story, PwC has denied that Ms Jie died from work-related fatigue but it’s hard to argue that her fatigue was caused by anything else. The firm is providing psychologists for employees, has sent a “team” to comfort Jie’s family and has even offered to assist with the cost of her funeral and this kind of outreach is admirable but the overarching culture within Big 4 firms is really what is of concern here.

Fatigue from overworking is not uncommon in the Big 4 life but when someone dies as a result of the fatigue, that’s will obviously get some attention (even if it’s just for a little bit). At some point it became acceptable for sleep – and health in general – to become of secondary importance when it comes to having a successful career. If you don’t believe me, look around you; everyone is exhausted and that’s part of the life inside a Big 4 firm. The pressures of performance in the name of client service are so great that people regularly come to work when they should be in bed or, in some cases, an emergency room. Of course there’s the macho contingent inside these firms that say “sleep is for the weak” and that’s the kind of attitude that perpetuates the culture of “getting the job done.” How is this acceptable? Not only can lack of sleep kill you, it doesn’t really do much for job performance. We’ve all seen people make big mistakes when they’re lacking sleep and yet no one considers the root cause. If you think skipping a few hours of sleep a night is worth to a few thousand dollars a year (at best) then you’ve got some seriously fucked up priorities.

I admit that people aren’t dropping left and right inside these firms due to lack of sleep but let’s quit pretending like working hours upon hours, putting your health at risk and coming into work looking like – pardon the expression – death warmed up is some kind of badge of honor.

Chinese Company CFO Resignation Du Jour: Qiao Xing Universal Resources Inc.

When is this officially a pattern? Or is it simply a trend? Qiao Xing CFO Jiang Aijun resigned today but have no fear investors! – the company has appointed a financial controller and is on the hunt for a new CFO.

Plus they’re planning to file their fiscal 2010 results a month ahead of schedule. The company’s stock was down 12% for the week prior to today’s announcement and unfortunately, all this fresh news doesn’t seem to have calmed anyone down. [Dow Jones, Earlier, Earlier]

The SEC Is Aware That Some Chinese Companies Have Shoddy Accounting

Or in some cases, just plain fraudulent.

In prepared remarks at an investors conference, Luis Aguilar said he is increasingly concerned about the proliferation of small private companies that elect to merge with public shell companies in lieu of more rigorous methods of becoming public, such as a traditional IPO. “While the vast majority of these companies may be legitimate businesses, a growing number of them have accounting deficiencies or are outright vessels of fraud” Aguilar said, speaking at a Council of Institutional Investors conference here.

And in case you missed it the auditing isn’t so hot either:

”There appear to be systematic concerns with quality of auditing and financial reporting,” he said. “Even though these companies are registered in the U.S., we have limitations when it comes to enforcing U.S. securities laws with them.”

US Securities Regulator Aguilar Sounds Backdoor-Merger Alarm [Dow Jones]
SEC official concerned with ‘back-door’ listings [MarketWatch]

Chinese Companies Want the Big 4 Magic

“Companies are under pressure from investors to get the best auditor they can,” said Paul Gillis, an accounting professor at Peking University in Beijing. More than 200 Chinese companies are listed on U.S. exchanges, and hundreds more trade on over-the-counter bulletin boards. In the last five months, at least 15 have upgraded to a Big Four auditor — Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers or KPMG — from a smaller firm, according to an analysis from Audit Analytics. [Reuters]

‘Forging and Selling Invoices to Avoid Taxes’ in China Is No Longer Punishable By Death

We Americans do love a good firing squad/lethal injection/electric chair/hangin’ but the Chinese make us look like a bunch of pansies by comparison. However, after several millennia, China might be getting soft in its old age. As the Associated Press reports, some economic crimes have been pulled from the “do this and die” list:

Thirteen economic, nonviolent offenses will be removed from the list of 68 crimes punishable by death, said Lang Sheng, who heads a legal committee for the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature. The 13 crimes include forging and selling invoices to avoid taxes, and smuggling cultural relics and precious metals such as gold out of the country.

However, it should be noted, “[A]n expert said the move was unlikely to significantly reduce executions, since people convicted of those crimes in the past have rarely received the maximum penalty and capital punishment can still be used to punish other economic crimes such as corruption.”

We’re not intimately familiar with all the potential criminal tax pitfalls in China, so it’s safe to assume there are plenty of other tax crimes that will still get you the dirt nap. International tax scofflaws should tread carefully.

China drops death penalty for some economic crimes [AP via Gawker]

Google CFO: We Can’t Quit You, China

Patrick Pichette admits that, despite some less than ideal position on censorship, the GOOG still has a mad crush on those 1.2 billion searchers and their right to know who won the Nobel Peace Prize:

Pichette told The (London) Times that it was not the end. “China has 1.2 billion people. For Google to say, ‘We’re going to live on our mission, but not serve 1.2 billion people’ — it just doesn’t work. China wants Google.”

He spoke of the “great firewall of China,” where censors filter the information that China’s internet users can view.

He said: “[If] you were in China last week, two weeks ago, and you typed in Nobel Peace Prize — there were no results. Think of Google’s brand now. You’re Chinese, you know that’s not true, that the Nobel Peace Prize has not disappeared from the face of the earth. There lies the issue of brand. There lies the issue of our mission.”

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

Will the Solution to the Big 4 “Too Few to Fail” Problem Come Out of China?

Adam Jones at the Financial Times takes a look at the Big 4’s too few to fail problem, noting that the recent green paper from the European Commission is a combination of A) lame ideas:

Its flakier suggestions included getting a regulator or another third party to appoint auditors to ease fears about their independence – a move that would disenfranchise shareholders to an unacceptable extent. A European quality certificate for auditing was also mooted as a way of helping second-tier firms show they could handle the biggest jobs. Such a badge would have limited credibility.


And B) points of discussion that need to be explored further, “[A] call for international talks on a contingency plan for the possible failure of one of the Big Four,” “enforced work-sharing also merits further discussion,” and “Brussels says it may also loosen rules requiring auditors to own the majority of an audit firm.”

All this talking gives us a headache and Jones admits that by allowing all ideas on the table it allows those happy with the status quo to distract from any real solutions:

The surfeit of ideas makes the debate comprehensive. But it also creates easy targets for those who want to preserve an inadequate market structure, detracting from more sensible suggestions made by Michel Barnier, EU internal market commissioner, and his team.

Despite the haters out there, the most interesting solution mentioned by Jones is the possibility of China – albeit a longshot – coming to the rescue:

Some think the danger might be eased by a Chinese accountant teaming up with a second-tier firm to create a new rival to the Big Four. Such an entity would face suspicion in the west, though, and it may be too soon to look to Beijing for answers.

For the market enthusiasts out there, this has to be the best idea you’ve heard even though it comes at the exception of the Chinese.

Think WeiserMazars but on a much, much larger scale. Maybe BDO’s U.S. firm is a target because of their legal troubles. Maybe Stephen Chipman will use his connections in China to parlay into some mega-international merger. We realize it’s hard to use your imagination when you’re staring at spreadsheets all day but ideas are needed people.

Solutions provided by the market will be a far better than something mandated by governments. China’s economy is still growing at a ridiculous clip and some say that’s good for the us here in the States.

Bottom line – we’re happy to entertain the possibility of China getting in the mix because as Jones says, “[W]hile this risk is broadly acknowledged, I have so far seen little evidence of a plan to deal with it.” And as it stands now, the bureaucrats are leading the discussion.

PwC Doubling Headcount in China

All the other Big 4 firms have gotten some digital ink hyping their hiring plans for the next fiscal year and beyond. Before today, PwC had only mustered some rumored poaching which isn’t ideal PR.

The rest of the firms have already made it known that they are doing their part to create jobs here and abroad – Deloitte’s numbers are dumbfounding, KPMG’s spree includes Europe and asking its alumni come crawling back, while E&Y is picking up 6,000 recruits off campus.

P. Dubs finally gets puts some hiring news out there announcing that they will double their headcount in China over the next 5 years to over 20,000 employees.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP plans to double its headcount in China to more than 20,000 people within the next five years to meet rising demand for professional services as the nation’s companies become more international.

“We expect more Chinese companies to expand their presence overseas, and we’d like to be part of that growth,” Silas Yang, the firm’s chairman for China and Hong Kong, said today in a statement.

PwC to Double China Headcount to More Than 20,000 Over 5 Years [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

Accounting News Roundup: More on PwC Re-Branding and the Firm’s Bet on China; What Would Mitch McConnell’s Government Look Like? | 09.17.10

Warren vows end to “tricks” with consumer agency [Reuters]
“Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren said on Friday she accepted the job of setting up a consumer financial protection agency for U.S. President Barack Obama and declared that the time for financial ‘tricks and traps’ was over.

Obama was expected to announce his appointment of Warren, a Harvard University professor and hero to liberal activists, at 1:30 pm EDT, taking a step forward in enacting the financial reform that is a signature achievement of his presidency.”

Final Seal Set for BP Well [Re-Branding at PricewaterhouseCoopers — OMG, It’s Like Totally Awesome! [Re:Balance]
Jim Peterson’s analysis on PwC’s new look takes a bit of a different angle, “When the accounting profession’s very survival rests on the ability to sell a basic core product – assurance on financial information – the essence of that delivery is the maintenance of confidence among issuers and users in consistent, solid and predictable quality service.

That has been more than challenge enough, in difficult times for the profession. But its messages can and should be pretty stolid. A slightly boring orthodoxy is not a bad thing, when the profession is the only one that requires two terms to describe itself and its core offerings: accountant and auditor – contrasted with, for example, doctor, lawyer, priest or engineer.”

When Job-Interview Questions Become Too Personal [The Juggle/WSJ]
Things you shouldn’t have to answer: 1) “Do you plan to have a family any time soon?” 2) “I love your accent; where are you from?” 3) “Are you currently using birth control?”


PwC: To Invest Around $100 Mln On China In 3-5 Years [Dow Jones]
“PricewaterhouseCoopers plans to invest an estimated US$100 million in China over the next three to five years on overall operations including recruiting and training staff to meet the country’s growing appetite for more sophisticated financial services, said a senior executive of the global accounting firm.

‘We see great opportunities in China. The world is coming out of recession and emerging markets like China and India have done so much better than mature markets,’ Nora Wu, lead partner of PwC’s Shanghai office, told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Tianjin.”

Mitch McConnell, the Bush Tax Cuts, and the Future of Government [TaxVox]
“Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to permanently extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts. He’s also rejected even modest efforts by President Obama to restrain the growth of Medicare. He is opposed to efforts by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to control future Pentagon spending. And he favors a constitutional amendment that would require a balanced budget. It all got me wondering: What would such a McConnell government look like?”

Accounting News Roundup: Herz Departure Is a Gift for Banks; American Apparel Blames Deloitte for Late Filings; Your Commute Isn’t That Bad | 08.25.10

Herz Leaving Marks Boon for Banks [WSJ]
“A new front has opened up in the war over mark-to-market accounting. Suddenly banks find themselves with an unexpected advantage in the fight over how they should value their vast holdings of financial instruments.

Trprise announcement Tuesday of the departure of Robert Herz as chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. This will give banks an opportunity to push for a successor who is more friendly to their views on the mark-to-market question, as well as the overall idea that accounting should be for more than just investors.”

Former Chief Accounting Officer for Beazer Homes USA, Inc. Indicted on 11 Criminal Counts [FBI]
Michael Rand didn’t have a very good day yesterday.

Block ramped up federal lobbying efforts in second quarter, report says [AP]
H&RB lobbied their asses off from April to June spending $500k talking the ears off at the IRS, Treasury and SEC.

American Apparel Works To File Late 10-Q Before Nov 15 [Dow Jones]
The NYSE has put Dov & Co. on notice that they best get their act together if they don’t want to be sent slumming with the pink sheets. The company is promising to pull things together and if it weren’t for Deloitte quitting, everything would be a-okay.

Fact Checking Minority Leader Boehner’s Claims on “Small Business” and the “Bush” Tax Cuts [Tax Foundation]
In case you didn’t hear, John Boehner suggested that the President fire his entire economic team. Boehner is of the opinion that letting the tax cuts expire will hurt small businesses, citing the Joint Tax Committee. Tax Foundation takes exception with this, saying that the Ohio Congressman and House Minority Leader is misrepresenting the findings of the JTC:

“First off, the businesses that JCT is referring to are not necessarily ‘small.’ Saying the word ‘small business’ sounds good to the electorate because it brings up an image of a mom and pop store on Main Street America. But plenty of large businesses, as defined by net income or gross receipts, file their taxes under the individual income tax as opposed to the corporate income tax. Merely because a business is paying individual income taxes as opposed to corporate taxes does not mean it is ‘small.’ ”


Statement From Chairman Schapiro on Financial Accounting Foundation Developments [SEC]
“I commend the Financial Accounting Foundation for its ongoing efforts to evaluate and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the structure and operation of the Financial Accounting Standards Board by increasing the size of the Board. The Foundation has determined that this revised structure will facilitate the continuing efforts of the FASB to work with the International Accounting Standards Board on their important convergence work plan. In addition, this should enhance the ability of the FASB to address issues facing the U.S. capital markets and the needs of investors.

“I also would like to commend FASB Chairman Robert Herz for his more than eight years of service. During his tenure, Chairman Herz has served as an effective investor advocate to improve the quality of financial reporting standards around the world. I welcome the appointment of Leslie Seidman as Acting Chairman. During this interim period, I look forward to working with Acting Chairman Leslie Seidman and the FASB as they continue their important work.”

Twenty something day-trader nailed with $172M bill in back taxes, asks ‘What’s the IRS?’ [NYDN]
How does a barely surviving Spaniard end up owing over $170 million to the IRS? For starters, he really doesn’t owe the Service the money. The problem arose because he didn’t file a tax return for one year that he spent day trading. The Service concluded that he made $500 million.

China Traffic Jam Could Last Weeks [WSJ]
Today, be thankful for your commute. No matter how bad it was, at least the drive/ride ended.

Ernst & Young Risks Alienating Acrophobic Employees in China

From Big 4 Blog:

Ernst & Young China is announcing the grand opening of its new office in China’s tallest building and premier location – Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) in the Pudong District of Shanghai. All of Ernst & Young’s 2,500 Shanghai people (of the 9,000 total China employees) will be one single location to help provide better services to clients and laying the groundwork for our further expansion in the China market. Prior to this, E&Y was in three different Shanghai locations.

Jim Turley managed to ignore the issue entirely saying, “Our confidence in the long term prospects in China is demonstrated in the investment in our business and our people. We currently have over 9,000 people in China, and will further grow our manpower with the business.”

Accounting News Roundup: Deloitte Names Van Arsdell as New Chair, CEO of AERS; Maryland Might Be Figuring Out This Fiscal Responsibility Thing; Frank Navigates the Waters | 08.12.10

Stephen C. Van Arsdell Named Chairman and CEO of Deloitte LLP’s Audit and Enterprise Risk Services Subsidiary [PRNewswire]
Thtte vet Steve Van Arsdell replaces Nick Tommasino as the head of Deloitte’s AERS.

As is the wont of these particular announcements, SVA seems pretty flippin’ stoked about the new gig, “I am excited to take the helm of Deloitte & Touche during such dynamic times. We know that to succeed we must always be a leader in quality. This is a shared commitment from all within our organization. The goals we set for ourselves will raise the bar for quality throughout the profession.”

Barry Salzberg got in a few words too, “I am fully confident in Steve’s ability to lead Deloitte & Touche through the myriad challenges and opportunities presented by the economic recovery and regulatory environment changes. His extraordinary talent, experience and leadership style will help further the practice’s primary mission to conduct the highest quality audits. As a continuing and integral member of our senior leadership team, I know his contributions will be considerable. Nick Tommasino has demonstrated a deep sense of partnership and commitment to our organization, and we thank him for his leadership. We’re delighted to bring his client service skills back to the marketplace.”

So, Stevey. Time to get down to brass tacks – everyone’s wondering about those raises.

Microloans Helps Some Small Businesses Survive [WSJ]
“When President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law in February 2009 to create jobs and promote spending, the law included $56.1 million for microloans for small businesses, to be doled out through the Small Business Administration through September.

While some critics complain about the government’s economic stimulus efforts, some lenders and borrowers say the stimulus spending that focused on helping small businesses is working.

Targeted toward start-up, newly-established, or growing small businesses, the microloans are short-term loans up to $35,000 each for working capital or inventory and equipment purchases. The intermediary lenders who distribute the loans can choose to lend more than that limit.”

China’s Rich Have $1.1 Trillion in Hidden Income, Study Finds [Bloomberg]
“China’s households hide as much as 9.3 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) of income that is not reported in official figures, with 80 percent accrued by the wealthiest people, a study showed.

The money, much of it likely “illegal or quasi-illegal,” equates to about 30 percent of China’s gross domestic product, the study, conducted for Credit Suisse AG and published last week by the China Reform Foundation, found. The average urban disposable household income in China is 32,154 yuan, or 90 percent more than official figures, according to the report.”

It’s Time to Give Up Spreadsheets for Tracking Carbon Emissions [Green Biz via AccMan]
Give up on spreadsheets? The horror. “CFOs, CIOs and sustainability teams at large companies have used spreadsheets for years to track corporate carbon emissions.

We are now, however, at a tipping point where the benefits of carbon management software, also known as enterprise carbon accounting (ECA) software, outweigh the benefits of spreadsheets.

With many large companies recently completing their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) questionnaires, and entering budget planning in the fall, it is time to move away from spreadsheets to reduce risk, save money, increase productivity, and establish an enterprise-class source of record for carbon emission data.”


Budget surplus in Maryland? Believe it. [CPA Success]
California, New York – Pay attention.

Do I Owe My Employees a Career Path? [You’re the Boss/NYT]
“Being responsible for your workers’ jobs is hard. Being responsible for their careers is harder.”

TrueBlue Named to Top of Forbes’ “Most Trustworthy Companies” List [Business Wire]
“TrueBlue, Inc. ranked at the top of the list of companies with the ‘most transparent and conservative accounting practices and most prudent management,’ according to a new ‘Most Trustworthy Companies’ list compiled for Forbes by Audit Integrity, an independent financial analytics company.

Audit Integrity’s Accounting & Governance Risk rating, or AGR, rates companies’ accounting and management practices from 0 (very aggressive) to 100 (conservative); companies with a lower rating have been more likely to suffer equity loss, issue financial restatements and face class action suits, Forbes.com says.”

Maxine Waters Whacked, Barney Frank Untouched [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]
JW on the Maxine Waters’ ethics violations and how Barney Frank managet to be smart enough (or just politically savvy enough) to keep himself clean-ish.

Accounting News Roundup: More Dodgy Accounting from Lehman Brothers; Deloitte Announces $100 Million Investment in China; Less Than 100% of Tea Partiers Believe They are Overtaxed | 04.13.10

Lehman Channeled Risks Through ‘Alter Ego’ Firm [NYT]
That alter-ego firm is Hudson Capital and the Times reports that while HC “appeared to be an independent business, it was deeply entwined with Lehman,” citing a Board of Directors controlled by the bank, Lehman’s 25% ownership, and many former LEH employees working at HC. Hudson reportedly provided LEH with financing “while preventing ‘headline risk’,” but the relationship was designed specifically to maximize the utility of Hudson “without jeopardizing the off-balance sheet accounting treatment,” according to memo cited by the Times.


Deloitte To Spend More Money In China For Business Expansion [Dow Jones]
Deloitte is investing $100 million in China over the next three to five years, hiring 1,000 to 2,000 new employees per year, per Global CEO Jim Quigley and Deloitte China CEO Christopher Lu. This follows a five-year, $150 million investment by the firm announced in 2004.

Quigely told Dow Jones, “When I have made my investment decisions as the CEO of Deloitte, the market where we are investing the most is in China. We’ve now expanded. So another $100 million is coming this direction as we continue to want to grow our business here, and take advantage of the opportunities available to serve China companies and to serve companies outside of China who want to invest here.”

66% Say America Is Overtaxed [Rasmussen via TaxProf]
If you needed a poll that shows that Americans hate taxes in order to convince you, Rasumussen is all over it. 66% of people surveyed believe Amecians are overtaxed, as opposed to 25% who disagree. The issue is severely divided politically with 81% of Republicans believing they are overtaxed as opposed to Democrats who were split on the issue. 73% of those surveyed that did not affiliate with either party believe they are overtaxed while 96% of the Tea Party movement believe they are overtaxed.

Stephen Chipman Begrudgingly Wore Green on St. Patrick’s Day

Stephen Chipman’s blog post from last week got lost in the shuffle but you’ll be happy to know that you didn’t miss anything. Our lack of enthusiasm is not shared however, as the daily grind for a globe-trotting CEO seems to be enough to entertain some of the GT faithful. How do we know?

He shared one reader/fan’s thoughts this week, that’s how, “So, you really don’t just drink coffee and check e-mail!” While SC neither confirmed nor denied this particular allegation, one could assume that this is a big part of his day.

Moving on…Of the near 1,000 words in this week’s masterpiece, the only thing really worth mentioning is that the GT CEO spent his first St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago last week. And guess what Chi-town? You didn’t let him down; Steve-o was impressed.

This is my first time living in Chicago to experience St. Patrick’s Day; it was very interesting to see the Chicago community’s commitment to this holiday. Dutifully I wore my green tie, in respect of St. Patrick, which was very challenging to do for an Englishman. Nevertheless, I thought it appropriate…even though the Irish did beat the English at rugby a couple of weeks ago in the Six Nations Championships…which was a crushing disappointment…but I digress.

Digression! He’s really getting the hang of this. Maybe Chip’s blog readership is increasing?

The real question is what did SC see on St. Pat’s that piqued his interest? The green river? The turnout at the parade? The vast number of people vomiting in the streets? More details Stevey!

On the biz-nass front, SC did have a conference call with all the GT global leaders and he had to get up bright and early to get on the call at 8 am Chicago time. He did admit that this is NBD because when Steve-o was in China, he had to do the call in the god-awful morning hours to accommodate the BSDs in the U.S. and London.

Speaking of China (and digression), does anyone think Steve knows where mini-Madoff of Hong Kong Gabriel Azedo is? Dude has been missing for awhile.