September 15, 2019

Robert Khuzhami

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]

Dell Is the Latest to Go the SEC’s Woodshed; Settlement of $100 million for Fraudulent Accounting, Disclosure Violations

Sure, it’s not $550 million and it’s certainly not Goldman Sachs but the SEC seems to be having a pre-tay, pret-tay, pre-tay good July. On the other hand, some people think this settlement is more harsh than Goldman’s since Michael Dell was fined personally and Lloyd Blankein was not.

In addition to Dell, the man, the SEC charged former CEO Kevin Rollins and former CFO James Schneider for their roles in the disclosure violations related to payments the company received from Intel Corp. Former VP of Finance Nicholas Dunning and former Assslie Jackson were charged for their roles in the fraudulent accounting.

Washington, D.C., July 22, 2010 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Dell Inc. with failing to disclose material information to investors and using fraudulent accounting to make it falsely appear that the company was consistently meeting Wall Street earnings targets and reducing its operating expenses.

The SEC alleges that Dell did not disclose to investors large exclusivity payments the company received from Intel Corporation to not use central processing units (CPUs) manufactured by Intel’s main rival. It was these payments rather than the company’s management and operations that allowed Dell to meet its earnings targets. After Intel cut these payments, Dell again misled investors by not disclosing the true reason behind the company’s decreased profitability.

The SEC charged Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell, former CEO Kevin Rollins, and former CFO James Schneider for their roles in the disclosure violations. The SEC charged Schneider, former regional Vice President of Finance Nicholas Dunning, and former Assistant Controller Leslie Jackson for their roles in the improper accounting.

Dell Inc. agreed to pay a $100 million penalty to settle the SEC’s charges. Michael Dell and Rollins each agreed to pay a $4 million penalty, and Schneider agreed to pay $3 million, to settle the SEC’s charges against them. Dunning and Jackson also agreed to settle the SEC’s charges.

“Accuracy and completeness are the touchstones of public company disclosure under the federal securities laws,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Michael Dell and other senior Dell executives fell short of that standard repeatedly over many years, and today they are held accountable.”

Christopher Conte, Associate Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, added, “Dell manipulated its accounting over an extended period to project financial results that the company wished it had achieved, but could not. Dell was only able to meet Wall Street targets consistently during this period by breaking the rules. The financial results that public companies communicate to the investing public must reflect reality.”

The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., alleges that Dell Inc., Michael Dell, Rollins, and Schneider misrepresented the basis for the company’s ability to consistently meet or exceed consensus analyst EPS estimates from fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2006. Without the Intel payments, Dell would have missed the EPS consensus in every quarter during this period. The SEC’s complaint further alleges that Dell’s most senior former accounting personnel including Schneider, Dunning, and Jackson engaged in improper accounting by maintaining a series of “cookie jar” reserves that it used to cover shortfalls in operating results from FY 2002 to FY 2005. Dell’s fraudulent accounting made it appear that it was consistently meeting Wall Street earnings targets and reducing its operating expenses through the company’s management and operations.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Intel made exclusivity payments to Dell in order for Dell to not use CPUs manufactured by its rival – Advance Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD). These exclusivity payments grew from 10 percent of Dell’s operating income in FY 2003 to 38 percent in FY 2006, and peaked at 76 percent in the first quarter of FY 2007. The SEC alleges that Dell Inc., Michael Dell, Rollins, and Schneider failed to disclose the basis for the company’s sharp drop in its operating results in its second quarter of FY 2007 as Intel cut its payments after Dell announced its intention to begin using AMD CPUs. In dollar terms, the reduction in Intel exclusivity payments was equivalent to 75 percent of the decline in Dell’s operating income. Michael Dell, Rollins, and Schneider had been warned in the past that Intel would cut its funding if Dell added AMD as a vendor. Nevertheless, in Dell’s second quarter FY 2007 earnings call, they told investors that the sharp drop in the company’s operating results was attributable to Dell pricing too aggressively in the face of slowing demand and to component costs declining less than expected.

The SEC’s complaint further alleges that the reserve manipulations allowed Dell to materially misstate its earnings and its operating expenses as a percentage of revenue – an important financial metric that the company itself highlighted – for more than three years. The manipulations also enabled Dell to misstate materially the trend and amount of operating income of its EMEA segment, an important business unit that Dell also highlighted, from the third quarter of FY 2003 through the first quarter of FY 2005.

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, Dell Inc. consented to the entry of an order that permanently restrains and enjoins it from violation of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b), 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5, 12b-20, 13a-1, and 13a-13. Dell Inc. also agreed to enhance its Disclosure Review Committee and disclosure processes, including the retention of an independent consultant to recommend improvements to those processes and enhance training regarding the disclosure requirements of the federal securities laws.

Michael Dell and Rollins settled the SEC’s disclosure charges, without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, by each agreeing to pay the $4 million penalties and consenting to the entry of an order that permanently restrains and enjoins each of them from violating Sections 17(a)(2) and (3) of the Securities Act and from violating or aiding and abetting violations of other provisions of the federal securities laws.

Schneider consented to settle the disclosure and accounting fraud charges against him without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, and agreed to pay the $3 million penalty, disgorgement of $83,096, and prejudgment interest of $38,640. Dunning and Jackson consented to settle the SEC’s improper accounting charges without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations. Dunning agreed to pay a penalty of $50,000. In their settlement offers, Schneider, Dunning and Jackson consented to the issuance of administrative orders pursuant to Rule 102(e) of the Commission’s Rules of Practice, suspending each of them from appearing or practicing before the SEC as an accountant with the right to apply for reinstatement after five years for Schneider and three years for Dunning and Jackson.

The SEC’s investigation is continuing as to other individuals.

James Blenko, Shelby Hunt, Jonathan Jacobs, Ian Rupell, Robert Peak, Brian Palechek, and Jeffrey Anderson conducted the SEC’s investigation in this matter. Litigation efforts in the ongoing case will be led by Jack Worland and Richard Skaff.

The SEC acknowledges the assistance of the Federal Trade Commission in this investigation.

Can the SEC’s New Chief Accountant of Enforcement Division Stay Focused?

Howard Scheck is newest member of the SEC Dream Team, joining the Commission after leaving the Forensic & Dispute Consulting Practice of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services. Mr Scheck will serve as the Chief Accountant in the Enforcement Division, working for Robert Khuzhami.

Khuzhami is thrilled to have Howie on board, saying in the Commission’s press release, “Financial statement and accounting fraud are high enforcement priorities for the SEC, and Howard is highly qualified to lead our accounting staff in its relentless pursuit of these wrongful practices that are so harmful to investors.”


Sounds like Scheck is the man for the job, having been an forensic expert at Deloitte and working in the Enforcement Division for ten years as well but the question that really needs to be asked is, can he exert some self-control while on the job and avoid ladyboyx.com?

Not only has the SEC proven time and again that they aren’t the brightest group but that viewing porn on the job to cope with the stress is a-okay.

While other protectors of the markets are perusing the web for the best tranny-porn that can be seen for free, will Scheck be able to focus on slapping accountants on the wrist? Khuzhami seems like the no-nonsense sort but the herd mentality at the Commission may be too much to bear.

Howard A. Scheck Named Chief Accountant in SEC Enforcement Division [SEC.gov]

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