Should I not have done that?

Andrew Fastow Has Some Food for Thought

The ex-CFO of Enron, oh humbly, asks: "If the internal and external auditors and lawyers sign off on it, does that make it okay?" History has shown us that, "that all depends." However, maybe things have changed?  [via HBR]

So Olympus Didn’t Tell Investors That They Fired KPMG After a Dispute Over an Accounting Matter, So What?

Once in awhile, management and their auditors don’t see eye to eye on things. If semi-well adjusted adults are involved, usually cooler heads prevail and differences are sorted out. On the other hand, if there are egomaniacs or individuals of Irish descent involved, then things can sometimes go badly. Not badly in the physical sense, mind you. Badly in the sense that auditors usually get fired. When that happens it usually raises eyebrows of investors and people start asking all sorts of questions. Luckily, footnote disclosures usually detail the dispute and everyone moves on. That’s precisely what didn’t happen at Olympus:

In May 2009, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, the then president of the camera-maker and medical equipment firm, announced that the contract for its then auditor, KPMG, had ended and that another global accounting firm, Ernst & Young, would take over. Kikukawa made no mention of any row with KPMG, although Japanese disclosure rules require companies to notify investors of “any matters concerning the opinions” of an outgoing auditor. In a confidential internal document, Kikukawa wrote to executives in the United States and Europe, revealing that there had been a disagreement with KPMG which he did not plan to disclose to the stock market. “The release to be published today says that the reason of this termination is due simply to expiry of accounting auditors’ terms of office,” Kikukawa said in the letter dated May 25, 2009, which was written in English.

You may have recently heard that Olympus is in a bit of situation. They up and fired their new CEO after he was on the job for two weeks because he was asking a few too many questions. You see, Michael Woodford was of the opinion that the $687 million advisory fee the company was paying for to a firm assisting them with a purchase the company in the UK was a tad steep and wouldn’t keep [yapping motion with hands]. Mr. Kikukawa – who has a reputation as an ‘emperor‘ – didn’t care for that, so he and the Board of Directors told Woodford that his services were no longer needed, chalking it up to Woodford being a little too British.

Fast-forward to today’s news – The accounting issue in question – goodwill impairment – was related to the company, Gyrus Group Plc., Olympus purchased back in 2009. And who do you suppose gave Reuters the memo outlining the whole we’re-firing-KPMG-because-they-disagree-with-us-and-we’re-not-telling-anyone-about-it thing?

The confidential letter was given to Reuters by former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford who was ousted after just two weeks in the job on October 14 for what he says was his persistent questioning over the Gyrus advisory fee and other odd-looking acquisitions. Woodford says the letter was addressed to him in his role as head of Olympus Europe at the time and to Mark Gumz, then head of Olympus Corp America.

Apparently this is no big whoop as long as it’s not material and “the numbers add up” says an accounting professor who has ties to Olympus. Oh! In that case, I guess everyone should just move along.

Exclusive: Olympus removed auditor after accounting [Reuters]

Illinois Candidate Caught Cheating on the CPA Exam

We have better things to do than comb through the minutes of each accountancy board’s meetings, so thanks to the tipster who obviously doesn’t and sent in the following tip from the January 25, 2011 minutes of the Illinois Board of Accountancy:

b. Mr. [Richard] York led a discussion regarding a recent candidate caught cheating by Prometric. The Committee agreed with the Executive Director’s recommendation to void the candidate’s scores for that examination. It was agreed by the Board to implement a prohibition of testing privilege for 2-5 years as provided by Administrative Rule for future candidates caught cheating.

It’s common knowledge that if you are caught cheating on the CPA exam you should expect for your scores to be thrown out and will likely receive some sort of administrative penalty (such as being barred from taking the exam again for a certain number of years) but this is the first reference I have seen to an actual candidate getting busted.

How does one go about cheating on the CPA exam anyway? With countless questions completely locked down by the AICPA, how could a candidate cheat? Sharpie notes on the palm of his hand? Smuggled in snot rags?

The official line on cheating from the AICPA, NASBA and Prometric goes something like this:

The Boards of Accountancy, NASBA and the AICPA take candidate misconduct, including cheating on the Uniform CPA Examination, very seriously. If a Board of Accountancy determines that a candidate is culpable of misconduct or has cheated, the candidate will be subject to a variety of penalties including, but not limited to, invalidation of grades, disqualification from subsequent examination administrations, and civil and criminal penalties. In cases where candidate misconduct or cheating is discovered after a candidate has obtained a CPA license or certificate, a Board of Accountancy may rescind the license or certificate.

If the test center staff suspects misconduct, a warning will be given to the candidate for any of the following situations:
· Communicating, orally or otherwise, with another candidate or person
· Copying from or looking at another candidate’s materials or workstation
· Allowing another candidate to copy from or look at materials or workstation
· Giving or receiving assistance in answering examination questions or problems
· Reading examination questions or simulations aloud
· Engaging in conduct that interferes with the administration of the examination or unnecessarily
disturbing staff or other candidates

Grounds for confiscation of a prohibited item and warning the candidate include:
· Possession of any prohibited item (whether or not in use) inside, or while entering or exiting the testing room
· Use of any prohibited item during a break in a manner that could result in cheating or the removal of examination questions or simulations

Inquiring minds are dying to know what went down.

The scariest part is that in 2 – 5 years, this candidate can head back into Prometric and give it another shot. Looks like it’s payroll clerking it in the meantime.

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]

University Officials Not Impressed with Accounting Professor’s Demonstration of “First in, First Out”

Since many of you are current or former accounting students, you undoubtedly, at one time or another during your depraved days running around the quad, had the thought creep into your mind, “What would happen if Professor Johnson decided to drop trou in the middle of class while discussing accounting for bonds?”

Unfortunately for students at Kennesaw State University, they now know the answer to that question:

Raymond Devaughn Taylor, 57, is accused of taking off his clothes during a class he was teaching, according to an arrest warrant obtained by the AJC. […] Taylor, who worked in the business department on a contract basis, taught an accounting class during the fall semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to the class schedule posted on the university’s website.

“He will not be teaching again at KSU,” interim Provost Ken Harmon told the AJC.

Now, why this particular professor thought that pulling a Brett Favre on the entire class was a good idea is not entirely clear, as this particular method of impressing a target of your lust many years your junior has an abysmal track record. But as we alluded in the headline, maybe this was a unique teaching method on display. Or then again, perhaps students were showing their lack of interest and rather than scream and yell, Taylor figured this would hold the student’s attention better. OR simply, in the words of Cosmo, “Maybe uh, it needed some air. You know sometimes they need air, they can’t breathe in there. It’s inhuman.”

The theories are endless, really. Yours are welcome below and for the love of everything good and uproariously hilarious, if you were in this class, email us immediately.

[h/t TaxProf and The Summa – neither of whom would ever do such a thing]

Survey: Most People Get Away with Sending Inappropriate Emails

Recent data suggests that most of you sending emails regarding the person most likely to sleep their way to partner, the hot piece of ass that isn’t pulling their weight or a recruit from a certain school that asks less-than flattering questions about your firm, are getting way with passing it along to their friends and/or colleagues.

That being said, it does happen. One in twenty to be precise. Speaking from personal experience, sometimes people are reading your emails, especially if something goes viral within a firm and happens to sneak outside the firm. That’s when TPTB get on the horn and demand that people are held responsible.


Hey, nobody’s perfect right? When my particular reprimand came down, all I could do was laugh and say, “Yep, I did send that. Hell, it’s says “From: Caleb Newquist” right there. It was a bad decision on my part and I understand you have to do what you have to do.” And I moved on. Besides, I wasn’t the only one. It was communicated to me that literally hundreds of people were being reprimanded for forwarding the message so it was largely a damage control project and plenty of people were being told, “Don’t do that again. Ever.”

But for the most part, it sounds like most of your “inappropriate messages” fly beneath the radar, including:

Inappropriate jokes, angry messages sent in the heat of the moment, and scathing email replies forwarded to the wrong people are among some of the email gaffes that have landed office workers in hot water with their employers or clients.

One in five of those questioned said they had sent an inappropriate email in the heat of the moment, while almost a third said they had accidentally hit “reply all” instead of “reply”.

More than one in 10 of the 2,000 people surveyed admitted they had mistakenly sent an email criticising a colleague to the person they were insulting.

So while the Telegraph makes a point to note that 1 out of 20 people have been reprimanded for accidentally saying “God, can you believe the partner’s B.O. today?” in the “heat of the moment” it also shows that 19 people are having a great time sending inappropriate emails and not having any problems at all.

However, if you’ve been caught red-handed sending a dirty joke and/or discussing your booze-fueled business trip that may or may not have involved a party back at the hotel room, and were later asked to explain yourself, we’d love to hear about it below. And of course, send us any and all future inappropriate emails that would be 100% appropriate for these pages.

Not that we’re suggesting that you use your work email in an inappropriate manner. You’re representing your firm after all. Have the common sense to use a different email address.

One in 20 people reprimanded for inappropriate emails [Telegraph]

Five Ways Not to Lose Your Job Playing Around on the Internet

Accountants are more prevalent in the social mediasphere than you might think; they’ve taken over Twitter, blog regularly and can even be found figuring out how to make Foursquare relevant to business. But since tapping the potential of social media for business is relatively new, not all organizations know exactly how to use the tools, nor do the understand the importance of a good social media policy within their organization. So here are some tips for making the most out of social media without losing your job. We’re sorry we have to even share these but we’ve seen some of you guys out there in the social mediasphere and it appears you need a reminder.


Choose Your 140 Characters Carefully – If you’re on Twitter and are complaining about your job, understand that the entire world can see you. Even if your stream is private, the great Google sees everything. A few months back, Twitter’s internal search allowed private tweets to appear in searches. I’m not sure if this little hole has been patched but if it hasn’t, you don’t want to be a victim of your own public stream of consciousness. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in an e-mail to your boss.

Ask About Your Firm’s Social Media Policy – Though it’s sort of implied in the firm’s overall policy on communications outside of the company, social media is an entirely different avenue and the rules may not be as cut and dry as the GAAP you’re used to. Not all companies will specifically bar you from blogging on your free time and many turn a blind eye to the activity… until you say something they don’t like. Don’t assume that you’re safe if you don’t share your name or location: it’s fairly easy to reveal your identity if you’re sharing details of your life like where you live and what you do. It gets easier if you’re using a blog to rant about work or out obnoxious coworkers. This applies to positive blogs as well; even if you’re doing the industry a service by discussing current events in accounting, some firms would rather you not say anything at all. Be careful with your details and when in doubt, ask about your firm’s social media policy.

Facebook Friends – You’re not friends with him in real life so don’t be friends with your boss on Facebook. Facebook can be a great networking tool if you aren’t sharing photos of your drunken weekend adventures but if you are, better leave your boss or even coworkers off your friends list. Remember also that Facebook privacy settings can be complicated to say the least; even if you have most of your profile set to private, if you haven’t gone in and changed certain settings, mobile uploads and other photo albums can still appear in search results. That means any nosy coworker out to make you look bad could easily stumble upon your page and access things you’ve posted thinking they are invisible to anyone but your friends. I’m all for being cozy with colleagues but be careful when adding people you work with if you, like 99% of us, use your Facebook to rant, brag and occasionally spout off inappropriate things.

Careful when commenting on blogs! – Listen, we love you guys for contributing but sometimes we have to wonder if you’re playing with a full deck. If you’re commenting from and about work, keep the details to a minimum and use the anonymity of the Internet to your advantage! I have Jr Deputy Accountant readers who work for the banks, the Fed or government agencies but that secret stays between them and me – some choose to create a nickname that wouldn’t reveal who they really are and others stick with “anonymous”. However you do it, remember that if your name is George Stein and you work at KPMG, using GSKPMG2010 isn’t fooling anyone. Talking about salaries or griping about the conditions are totally allowed – if not encouraged – but be smart about it and never use your real name unless you work in communications or don’t mind your boss or colleagues seeing your comments. Once again, remember the great Google sees ALL.

Whatever you do, never forget the Internet is forever – You can delete your Myspace account but since the Internet tends to aggregate information, just because you’ve deleted something doesn’t mean it is gone forever. Case in point: when I write a blog post on JDA, it’s picked up and republished by two news aggregators instantly, which means I’m stuck with whatever typo I missed or stupid comment I made, even if I change or delete it on my own site. It is the same with Twitter as many bizarre websites aggregate tweets about a particular subject, some permanently. So you might be able to zap an obvious faux pas the morning after but it could come back to haunt you if it ends up somewhere else.

Did KPMG Plagiarize Part of Its Atlantic Yards Market Study?

Back in the fall we told you about a market study that KPMG issued on the Atlantic Yards project.

At that time, we learned that KPMG had done some less-than stellar research on the movement of the units on Prospect Park and it got the attention of some the local blogs covering the massive development project.

Namely, the Atlantic Yards Report blog. It reported:

KPMG’s report has some very shoddy research. Consider that the report (dated August 31) claims that Richard Meier’s On Prospect Park is 75% sold. (Only rental buildings are pre-leased.)

However, the New York Times reported September 27:

While the developers say half of the building’s 99 units have been sold, the real estate Web site StreetEasy.com documents only 25 closings through public records.

AYR didn’t state it so boldly back in the fall but in a post from yesterday (as well as reports in May and June) it isn’t so nice and flat out calls the firm out for lying, “The KPMG report got very little discussion, but it contains lies–blatant, checkable lies–about condo sales.”

But wait! There’s more! We learned today from a friend of GC that not only does AYR call out KPMG for having their pants on fire, it also says that the firm got a little carried away with the copy and pasting:

I discovered when I took another look, it contains more than two pages of shameless borrowing–plagiarism that is not diminished by a vague footnote.

The entire section on New York City Market Dynamics is cribbed from The Corcoran Report(s) for Manhattan and Brooklyn for the second quarter of 2009.

Yes, there’s a footnote to the section headline that cites “The Corcoran Report–2nd Quarter 2009” as a source (click to enlarge), but there’s no indication that nearly all the text–with the slightest of changes–comes from Corcoran.

No quotation marks, no indentations, no italics.

AYR provides several examples that are oddly the same identical. We’ve presented a clip from KPMG’s report here:

And here’s Corcoran’s (apologies for the small type):

Like we said, this is just one example. Our messages (email, voicemail, in a bottle) to KPMG have not been returned at this time.

One IRS Agent Needs to Work on His Bribery Technique

An Internal Revenue Service agent is charged with accepting a bribe from two business owners in exchange for lowering their taxes.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 40-year-old Roger Anthony Coombs met with the two owners on May 8 to discuss an IRS audit of their businesses. Prosecutors say Coombs offered to reduce the $60,000 the business owners owed in taxes to $11,000 if they would pay him $9,700.

Coombs was arrested Wednesday after the business owners reported the offer to law enforcement officers.


How does a $49k reduction in taxes equate to a $9,700 pay off? Were these business owners more interested in greasing him $9,700 for a $0 tax liability? Because if that was the case, this happened in Minnesota, not the South, where that sort of thing could go unnoticed.

Or maybe they got pissed after he turned down their offer to seal the deal with a Starbucks?

IRS agent charged with soliciting bribe [AP]

Today in Accountants Making Bad Decisions: Tweeting That You’re Going to Blow Up an Airport

When an airport is closed due to inclement weather, most people just shrug and realize that there’s nothing they can do about it. Oh sure, there might be a few lunatics who will yell at the ticket agent because they’ve somehow concluded that they have the ability to ring up the Almighty and put in a rush order of clearing skies but most people have the self control to internalize this.


In the case of Paul Chambers, an accountant in the UK, it wasn’t so much a ticket agent but his Twitter followers who heard his frustration. Chamber was understandably concerned that he wasn’t going to get laid due to Robin Hood Airport being closed this past January after a snowstorm. Chambers claimed that he Tweeted the following…

“C—! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your sh– together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”

…out of frustration because he was scheduled to fly to Belfast to meet Crazy Colours, whom he had met on Twitter. Prior to the C U Next Tuesday message, he had Tweeted to Crazy Colours, “I was thinking that if it does I’ve decided that I’m going to resort to terrorism,” presumably referring to another snowstorm that could potentially delay is upcoming travels.

Anyhoo, the Tweet was discovered by a Robin Hood Airport employee who was compelled to report the threat to authorities. Naturally this led to seven hours of questioning, the loss of his job, and a ban from the airport for life (later rescinded).

The judge ruled that the Tweet was ”of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live.” Chambers was fined approximately $1,500 and naturally, took to the Twittersphere with his thoughts on the matter:

Accountant used Twitter to threaten to blow up airport [Telegraph]
Briton Convicted for ‘Menacing’ Tweet Against Robin Hood Airport [The Lede/NYT]

Ohio Man Fighting the IRS May Not Be Done Bulldozing

Great news everyone! There’s a chance that more bulldozer fun will be had in Ohio, courtesy of Terry “Dozer” Hoskins.

Having demolished his house in less than two hours and knowing that it was only a matter of time before the bank came after his business property, he’s giving serious thought to renting another dozer and finishing this thing once and for all. Small town bank and IRS be damned.


Hey, we’re all for it. If you can a dozer for $500 why not introduce a little more chaos in your life? And don’t worry, the man is a professional and is always mindful of safety, “‘You have to know what you’re doing before doing something like this’ to avoid being hurt, Hoskins said of destroying his house. ‘I’ve run heavy equipment for years.'”

Believe it or not, Dozer’s wife wasn’t thrilled with the whole razing of the house, “Also not happy about the destruction of their house was his wife, Hoskins said. They are now living in one of the buildings on the commercial property.” He must have concluded that since he had already declared bankruptcy and destroyed one piece of property, floating the idea of flattening the business property couldn’t piss off the Mrs. too much more.

Question Hoskins decision-making skills if you like but it’s good to see a man taking pride in his work, “I don’t regret one bit of it.”

Home razer might take business next [Cincinnati Enquirer via TaxProf]