Mary Schapiro Wishes That Everyone Would Just BTFU

SEC Whistleblower Program Not Exactly Knocking Anyone’s Socks Off

The corporate watchdog has received just 168 complaints alleging corporate fraud in the first 6½ months of the program’s existence, according to data the SEC provided to The Post through a Freedom of Information Act request. The tally is from July 22, 2010, when the program was launched, through Feb. 2, 2011. At that rate, the SEC is receiving less than one tip a day — hardly the flood that led the agency to delay staffing the program while it pleaded with lawmakers for more funding. [NYP]

The IFRS Foot Dragging Talk Is Just Your Opinion

“This…is wrong. To be clear, while I strongly believe in our commitment to high-quality accounting standards, I believe just as strongly that this commitment is only the beginning of the discussion, not the end.”

~ SEC Chair Mary Schaprio, on the Commission’s approach to IFRS.

In Non-Goldman Sachs News, Mary Schapiro Doesn’t Think Much of Your Report on the SEC’s Response to Allen Stanford

In case you haven’t turned on a TV, been on the Internet or talked to single human being today you’re aware that Mary Schapiro and the Commission are little busy raining shit all over Team Jehovah.

As fun as this must be for the SEC, for some reason there are a few people that would like to discuss the SEC’s reaction to a Ponzi scheme whose alleged perp will likely die awaiting trial.


Even though Mary Schapiro can’t believe this timing (!), fine, she’ll humor you. But don’t interrupt again. They are trying to God’s work (and maybe win over some voters).

The following is a statement from SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro regarding SEC Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Report 526 — “Investigation of the SEC’s Response to Concerns Regarding Robert Allen Stanford’s Alleged Ponzi Scheme”:

“This report recounts events that occurred at the Commission between 1997 and 2005. Since that time, much has changed and continues to change regarding the agency’s leadership, its internal procedures and its culture of collaboration. The report makes seven recommendations, most of which have been implemented since 2005. We will carefully analyze the report and implement any additional reforms as necessary for effective investor protection.”

In other words, “I’m turning this ship around, and most of your bullshit suggestions are already in place, so how about you take your light your OIG report on fire?”

There’s a Very Good Reason Why Harry Markopolos Shouldn’t Be SEC Chairman

The man is a forensic sleuth, no question. Is he a hero? What’s a hero? Could he train young SEC grasshoppers to be fraud detecting machines like him? Probably. David Weidner — among others — isn’t enthused, especially with Harry’s idea about who should play him in a movie (Hanks, Damon, Cage).


And we’ll just go on record to say that we aren’t on board for Marks to take over either. Forget about our constant griping about the pipe dream that is accounting rule convergence and how HM’s input won’t likely amount to squat. That’s not what’s important.

What’s important to remember is that the man cannot control his bodily functions. As you may recall, the ACFE named Markopolos as their Fraud Examiner of the year and he spoke at their big to-do in Vegas where he admitted that he regularly soiled himself while investigating Bernie Madoff. This is unacceptable.

Look, maybe this isn’t a big deal for some of you but if the man wants to be in the big chair he can’t be changing his undies every couple of hours when he’s trying to crack a big case. Do you think Mary Schapiro has drawer full of extra VS? NO. WAY. So before you jump on the Marks bandwagon for the next Chair of Enforcing the Financial Universe, let’s not forget that when he gets nervous, he’ll be extra unpleasant to be around.

Harry Markopolos, SEC Chairman? [WSJ]

SEC Meeting on Roadmap Will Likely Lead to More Meetings on Roadmap

We hope! Remember how James Kroeker said how the Commission was “turning our focus back to the proposed roadmap”? No? Well, he did. And apparently he was serious because the SEC is having a meeting tomorrow about said roadmap. The whole time we’ve been reading about this map to godknowswhere, we just figured it was a figment of our imagination.

But a meeting! A meeting to decide whether or not the SEC will publish a statement! That’s somewhat encouraging, isn’t it? Here’s exactly what’s on the docket for the Sunshine Act Meeting:

“The Commission will consider whether to publish a statement regarding its continued support for a single-set of high-quality globally accepted accounting standards and its ongoing consideration of incorporating International Financial Reporting Standards into the financial reporting system for U.S. issuers.”


Okay, so if we’re reading this right, this particular sit-down will be to decide whether or not the Commission will put out an official statement regarding global accounting standards and if IFRS is good enough for us here in the US of A. Since everyone seems to be doubting the SEC’s ability to play nice with the rest of the world on the whole issue, they figured a hippie-ish sounding meeting should help calm everybody down.

We can only foresee two outcomes from this meeting: 1) the SEC decides that they will publish a statement (after more meetings) and give an approximate date that the statement will be released and it will be delayed for an indeterminable amount of time, or 2) the Commission decides it will not publish a statement that the IASB can take its self-righteous double-entry accounting attitude back to London-town and we’ll just do whatever the hell we want. THE END.

SEC to Meet Wednesday on IFRS Roadmap [Web CPA]
SEC considers reaffirming commitment to global standards [Accountancy Age]

The New Inspections Director at the SEC Will Enjoy Low Expectations

relax.jpgA little afterthought on Carlo di Florio’s new gig as the director of the Office of Compliance and Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”). And no, we’re not caving to the request of some to go ape over the revolving door that is every financial regulatory agency.
Our thought is this man has absolutely no pressure heading into his new job. None. Look at the track record of his predecessor:

Lori Richards, who had headed OCIE since its creation in 1995, left the SEC last August. She was one of several high-level officials, including the enforcement director, who departed the agency after Schapiro took the helm in January 2009.

Kotz has detailed how the SEC bungled five investigations of Madoff’s brokerage business between June 1992 and December 2008, when the financier confessed to his sons that he was operating a fraudulent scheme. Top SEC officials have pledged to fix the problems and said they have made major changes.

So essentially he’s following 13 years of utter incompetence.
Plus, according to the Commission, Carlo was a dynamo at P. Dubs helping them build their “corporate governance, risk management and regulatory compliance practice[s]” and was a top dog for “[investigating] corporate fraud, corruption, conflicts of interest and money laundering.” So if he’s the jim-dandy they say he is, he’ll be finding fraud in his sleep. The SEC is in total rebuilding mode and he’s following over a decade of failure so is there anything he could possibly do to screw this up? A few decent busts a year and this guy will go down in history like Eliot Ness.
Well played, Carlo. Well played indeed.
Head of SEC Inspections Office Named [AP via NYT]

A Note to the SEC

Web CPA, October 30, 2009:

Kroeker reiterated earlier statements that he and SEC Chair Mary Schapiro had made, indicating the SEC was turning its attention this fall to the proposed IFRS roadmap. When asked about the date, Kroeker said, “There will be follow-up on the roadmap this fall.” Asked to define the word “fall,” he noted that the season ends on Dec. 21.

Fall ended at 12:47 pm EST today. Anyone seen this map?

The PCAOB Chairman Is in It for the Money

Thumbnail image for pcaob.jpgHow’s this for awkward: Mary Schapiro makes $162,000 as the big chief at the SEC. The Chairman of the PCAOB makes $672,676 a year and board members get $546,891. And just so you know, B to the H to the O makes $400k.
The Berg says that, “Salaries for PCAOB members exceed the pay for most public officials to make the jobs competitive with the private sector,” which probably explains it but cripes. That’s good scratch for sitting in meetings all day and continually telling auditors how much they suck at their jobs.


The whole subject came up in the article because Schape and Co. are trying to find a permanent chairman to replace interim chair Dan Goelzer and two retiring board members.
The lead horse is Kurt Schact, the managing director of the CFA Institute’s Centre for Financial Market Integrity. Mr. Schact has a JD and BS in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. Candidates for the two soon-to-be vacated board seats include one CPA, Helen Munter (Deloitte) and two former SEC attorneys, Linda Griggs and John Sturc.
Does anyone see a problem here? Does anyone think for one minute, that the PCAOB will be better off with fewer auditors guiding the ship? There must not be a single qualified auditor in the entire universe that could possibly want to chair the PCAOB. Thankless job to be sure but at least the money is decent.
Anyway, the good news is that arguments for Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB will be heard at the SCOTUS next week. Maybe we’ll all get lucky and this appointment crap will become meaningless.
SEC Said to Consider CFA’s Schacht to Lead U.S. Auditor Board [Bloomberg]
See also: CFA Institute’s Schacht May Chair PCAOB [Web CPA]

The Latest Badge of Honor for the SEC

[The] GAO says the SEC ended its fiscal year on Sept. 30 with ineffective internal control over financial reporting, a now recurring theme ince [sic] the SEC was first required in 2002 to submit audited financial statements to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget.
“In connection with our prior audits, GAO has made numerous recommendations to SEC to address the internal control issues that continued to persist during fiscal year 2009,” GAO wrote in its report. The deficiencies that most troubled the government auditor were problems with information security, financial reporting processes, fund balance with the U.S. Treasury, registrant deposits, budgetary resources, and risk assessment and monitoring processes.
The deficiencies add up to a material weakness, GAO said, giving good reason to wonder whether data processed by SEC’s systems are reliable and adequately protected.

SEC Gets Another Material Weakness Finding from GAO [Compliance Week]

Apparently Accounting Rule Convergence Is Not 100% Total Convergence

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for merge.jpgYesterday the FASB and IASB got together and spent 23 pages convincing everyone that convergence of accounting rules will happen by June 2011. If you haven’t been convinced by the steps one paragraph statement that was issued saying how ‘encouraged’ she is about the latest re-re-affirming.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that there will be a single set of accounting rules — for the entire financial reporting universe — rolled out and everything will be right with the world in June 2011.


But will it be a single set of standards? Edith Orenstein of FEI Financial Reporting Blog:

It is interesting to note that the FASB-IASB joint statement speaks in some places of converging to a ‘single’ set of standards, and in other places of converging to a ‘common’ set of standards. To some, these terms can mean a world of difference. However, the terms are often used interchangably by many different parties. For example, here are some excerpts from the joint statement:

We are redoubling our efforts to achieve a single set of high quality standards within the context of our respective independent standard-setting processes.
Our goal is to develop together common standards that improve financial reporting in the US and internationally and that foster global comparability. Achieving such improvements is consistent with the objectives of the IASB that are set out in the Constitution of the IASC Foundation. It also fulfils the responsibility the FASB has under US law and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s 2003 Policy Statement to consider, in developing standards, whether international convergence is necessary and appropriate in the public interest and investor protection.

(emphasis original)
That clears it up, doesn’t it? So it’s either a “single set” or “common standards”? FEI Blog thinks it’s a progression, “Presumably, once a set of ‘common standards’ is acheived, the next step would be to officially adopt one set (again, presumably, IFRS, which is used in over 100 countries) as the ‘single’ global standard.”
While this may be the case it still doesn’t mean that everything will be the same.
CFO:

“Convergence doesn’t necessarily mean the same,” says D.J. Gannon, a Deloitte audit partner and the firm’s expert on international financial-reporting standards. In fact, Gannon says, there is no expectation that any of “the lingering differences” between rules that are already converged will be handled through standard-setting. “So the bottom line is that companies [reporting results under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles] are going to have to deal with those differences if they apply international financial-reporting standards at some point in the future.”

Good lord. So for all practical purposes, it sounds like there will still be differences. Frankly, we’re disappointed in this revelation. If someone had told us from the get-go that it wasn’t going to be 100% the same accounting rules we wouldn’t have made such a big stink about the absolute impossibility of the endeavor. Going forward we’ll be taking this even less serious.
FASB, IASB Reaffirm Convergence By June, 2011 [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]
“Convergence Doesn’t Necessarily Mean the Same.” [CFO]

The SEC’s Education of the Public Now Includes Video Games

Thumbnail image for Mary Schapiro.jpgJust when you thought the SEC had run out of good ideas, investor.gov comes along and just blows your mind all over again.
Nevermind Mary Schapiro’s surprisingly pleasant welcome and tips on how to avoid fraud. The Money Game page is where the real ingenuity comes into play.
Moneytopia takes a while to load, which obviously serves as proof that this latest method of educating the public has caught fire like no one could have expected.
Except for the Commission that is. Lucky for us, Schape & Co. had the foresight to realize how popular Moneytopia would be and allows you to play Bust Out while you wait.
When the game finally loads (after our horrendous score of 600), Moneytopia takes a stab at our earlier suggestion regarding financial statements, using cartoons and make believe wealth and connections to explain how to be not only a better investor but an honest investor. Like we said, another bullseye.

The SEC Awkwardly Reasserts its Authority

mschape.jpgThe SEC, having lost every shred of dignity it once had, is kindly reminding everyone that they are the authority on accounting rules. It sounds like the Commission is concerned that some of you might be a little confused by the new FASB Codification and just wanted to put it out there that M. Schape and crew are still the ones in charge.
Forget about any possibility of a bean counter coup that would upend the accounting rule universe. It’s not happening on Mary Schapiro’s watch.
Nevermind that it took the better part of a year to get a Chief Accountant officially appointed. The Commission was probably worried that, with all the hubbub, people may have lost some perspective, that’s all. The SEC, could torpedo this whole Codification nonsense back to the stone age, if it wanted to. Just wanted to remind everyone. Thanks.
SEC Clarifies Authority Over Accounting Rules [Compliance Week]

Apparently There Was No Rush on the Naming of the Chief Accountant

mary_schapiro_1218.jpgIt’s nearly September and Mary Schapiro has finally gotten around to naming a Chief Accountant. It’s been a busy 7-8 months, and with Ponzi schemes popping up out of nowhere and Steve Job’s liver, sometimes getting appointments made can’t be squeezed in.
James Kroeker, a former partner and Deloitte gets the honor of whatever it is the OCA actually does. Oh wait:
More, after the jump

Kroeker, who has held the job on an interim basis since January, would be responsible for interpreting rules requiring companies to disclose their financial health to shareholders. If named, he would referee disputes between banks and investors over writedowns for assets that lost value during the recession.

That’s it? This will be a breeze. Get crackin’ Jimmy. You’re got eight official months to get caught up on.
SEC’s Schapiro Said to Name Kroeker as Agency’s Top Accountant [Bloomberg]