Hearings

auditing SOX 404 internal controls

NYSE President Not Sure About All This Auditing

Over at the House Committee on Financial Services, some opposition to Sarbanes-Oxley has come up in a hearing called “The Cost of Being a Public Company in Light of Sarbanes-Oxley and the Federalization of Corporate Governance.” The gist of it is this — some people think regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley have made it too difficult to […]

Save the Date: Senate Hearing on Protecting Taxpayers from Incompetent and Unethical Return Preparers

I may have blown off the PCAOB public meeting this week but this I can totally get with. Mostly because they used the word "incompetent" so brazenly (the irony of which is obviously lost on the Senate). The Senate Finance committee will be tackling the all important topic of "Protecting Taxpayers from Incompetent and Unethical […]

For Reasons Unknown, Some People Are Listening to Mike Huckabee Talk About Taxes

The House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee held a hearing yesterday to discuss how to best reform the Internal Revenue Code.

Oddly, former Republican Presidential Candidate and conservative stud of the Fox News stable, Mike Huckabee, was invited to give his thoughts on the matter which include eliminating the IRS and replacing it with the dead in the water FairTax:

[Huckabee] is urging Congress to eliminate the Internal Revenue Service, along with taxes on income, payrolls and estates, and replace them all with a single retail sales tax. Huckabee told the House Ways and Means Committee today that Congress should pass legislation to achieve those goals, dubbed the FairTax, which is popular with many Republican voters even as it makes little legislative progress.

Now maybe Huckabee secretly crammed in rigorous tax study during his one year at seminary but this is a guy who was convinced Donald Trump was going to run for President.

Huckabee Tells Congress to Scrap IRS for Single Retail Sales Tax [Bloomberg]

Did Ernst & Young Convince Republicans to Skip Last Week’s Senate Subcommittee Hearing?

If you followed last week’s “Role of the Accounting Profession in Preventing Another Financial Crisis” hearing before the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment, you may have noticed that “Ernst & Young” was never uttered by anyone on the panel, although Lehman Brothers was mentioned a number of times throughout the hearing. Anton Valukas, the bankruptcy examiner for the Lehman, was there after all and “Ernst & Young” appears in his report probably thousands of times. So why wouldn’t Ernst & Young be mentioned? This is a hearing about the accounting profession preventing, after all and Mr Valukas has stated in his report and elsewhere that “colorable claims” could be filed against E&Y. Stands to reason that perhaps the firm would come up at some point.


Also, if you followed the hearing with us on our live-blog, you definitely heard Francine McKenna and I complaining about the sorry turnout by the members of the subcommittee. The majority of questions coming from the subcommittee chairman, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), with a few from Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The eight GOP members were nowhere to be found. Now maybe accounting isn’t the sexiest of topics but it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t an important hearing where many questions could have been asked of an industry that witnessed excrement coming into contact with an old Century. However, after a tip from a person familiar with situation, we may have an idea why there was such a pathetic turnout:

[T]he auditing firms did not like it they were holding the hearing and E&Y really was complaining to Reed that Valukas had been invited. As a result, the Republicans agreed that none of them would attend the hearing which in fact, none did.

Gotta love spiteful absence! Obviously we had to call around on this one and Ernst & Young spokesman Charlie Perkins declined to comment. As for the Republican members of the subcommittee, we have…well, nothing else to share at this point. But we’re hopeful! It’s entirely possible that all eight GOP members had something better to do than ask questions of industry experts that had a front row seat to the financial crisis, but then again the hearing was pretty early in the morning.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Senator Mike Crapo, the ranking member on the subcommittee, informed us that Mr Crapo was sick last Wednesday and canceled all his appointments for that day.

Live-blogging the Hearing on the Role of the Accounting Profession in Preventing Another Financial Crisis

Okay team, are we ready to do this? The first panel will be informative but fairly uneventful unless one of David Vitter’s hookers shows up unexpectedly and demands that her opinion be heard and the chances of that seem slim. The second panel may have more excitement since we have Anton Valukas and Lynn Turner in one corner and Cynthia Fornelli of the Center for Audit Quality and Thomas Quaadman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in other but we’ll see how things go.

We’re using a different method of live-blogging today, trying out Cover it Live for the first time on GC. You’ll be able to follow our coverage (after the jump and watch the hearing live here) and comment in real time. Once you submit your comment, I’ll simply approve it (just so long as you don’t say anything especially idiotic or offensive) and it will appear right alongside my comments. Professor Dave Albrecht is also live-blogging, so jump over to The Summa to check out his thoughts. Also, Adrienne is on the Hill today live-tweeting the proceedings, so be sure to keep tabs on the details she’s providing on nervous staffers, Brooks Brothers suits and male-pattern baldness. All right, let’s get on with it, shall we?

Valukas Testimony: Public Has the Right to Conclude That Auditors Will Stand Up to Management

“The public has every right to conclude that auditors who hold themselves out as independent will stand up to management and notsuccumb to pressure to avoid rocking the boat.”

Valukas Testimony 4-6-11 Am

Lynn Turner Doesn’t Let Accountants, SEC, FASB Off the Hook for Their Part in Financial Crisis

Today’s testimony before the subcommittee of Securities, Insurance and Investment will be focused on the how the accounting industry can help prevent the next financial crisis and will feature many prominent figures. The first panel will feature James Doty, Chairman of the PCAOB, Leslie Seidman, Chairwoman of the FASB and James Kroeker the Chief Accountant of the SEC.

The second panel will include Anton Valukas of Jenner & Block and the bankruptcy examiner of Lehman Brothers, Cynthia Fornelli of the Center for Audit Quality, Thomas Quaadman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Lynn Turner, the former Chief Accountant of the SEC. Throughout the statement Mr Turner points to various defects within the accounting profession infrastructure. This includes the profession itself, “auditors helped contribute to a crisis in confidence” the efforts of the accounting rule-making body, “Clearly the FASB has failed to develop quality and timely standards,” and the hapless SEC, who “[lacks] the tools for the job.”

Mr. Turner’s written statement appears in full after the jump.

SenateBankingSecuritiessubcommittee04062011

Accounting News Roundup: FASB, IASB May Be Overachieving on Convergence; PwC Wants Your Fat; Who’s Betting on Legal Internet Gambling? | 05.19.10

FEI Implores FASB, IASB to Slow Down [Compliance Week]
Financial Executives International is concerned that the FASB and IASB have gotten a little too ambitious in their convergence efforts and has written a letter to the Boards’ respective Chairmen that basically says, “Easy, tiger.”

Everyone knows that those knowitalls at the G-20 were insisting the accounting rule mavens to make convergence happen by next summer but FEI is trying to take pragmatic approach to this:

Arnold Hanish, chairman of FEI’s Committee on Corporate Reporting, said in his letter to the two boards the group is concerned about the “unprecedented volume as well as the complexity of proposed standards” that the two boards are developing. The committee fears the vast scope and aggressive timeline for the proposals will not allow adequate analysis of how the rules will work, which will lead to implementation problems and amendments further down the line.

In other words, this isn’t quantum mechanics, but it’s not Fisher Price either. Mr Hanish did his best to remind Bob Herz and Sir David Tweedie just how overambitious this little project is:

Our member companies are extremely concerned with the 10+ Exposure Drafts (EDs) that are in final stages and will be released for public comment through the third quarter of 2010. During any single period in time in its 38-year history, the FASB has had no more than 3 or 4 significant EDs out for public comment.

FEI doesn’t seem convinced that this unprecedented overachieving by Herz and Tweeds is going to result in the “one set of high quality standards.” They would prefer that hte Boards get this right the first time so they don’t have to slap the proverbial duct tape all over the efforts later.

Cabbies, Accountants Look to Chip-Fat Fuel on Cost, Environment [Bloomberg]
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ London office is trying to do its best for the environment by using local chip-fat converted into biodiesel to supplement its energy needs:

PwC is seeking local sources for 45,000 liters of biodiesel to meet one quarter of its monthly office fuel needs, said Jon Barnes, head of building and facilities services at the firm.

“I’m trying to locally source used chip fat from restaurants,” he said. “It’s a pretty pointless exercise of using biofuel if it’s been all round the world on a ship.”

Sounds like a bang-up idea but P. Dubs is always looking for an angle, “Having a renewable source for some of PwC’s office’s energy needs could help the company sell its services to clients wanting to do the same.”

House Holds Hearing Today on Tax and Internet Gambling [TaxProf Blog]
The House Ways & Means Committee is holding a hearing today to kick around the possibility of legalizing Internet gambling here in the US of A (and taxing it, of course). It kicks off at 9:30 am ET and with any luck, you’ll be legally losing your mortgage payments for the 2010 football season.