If you've ever met a whistleblower, or heard one give a speech, you never get the sense that they're too caught up in their 15 minutes, marching around to the beat of their kick ass do-gooderness. Typically, it's more of a matter-of-fact story and less a reflection on the heroic moments that turned an ordinary […]
Don't expect this to be the standard result for any future snitches on corporate tax evaders, but the IRS did make good for at least one informant: The Internal Revenue Service awarded tax whistleblower and former UBS AG banker Bradley Birkenfeld $104 million for providing the agency with insider information in UBS's illegal encouragement of […]
That is, helped American clients stash money offshore.
Credit Suisse said Friday it had been notified that it was the object of an investigation by the United States Department of Justice, citing “a broader industry inquiry.” The Swiss bank said that it had previously received subpoenas and other information requests from the Justice Department and other government agencies regarding cross-border services that its private banking arm provided to American clients.
As you may recall, the situation for UBS didn’t turn out so well and they sorta went back on that whole “secrecy” thing. Unfortch for Credit Suisse, they’ll probably have to snitch too:
On Friday, a court in Lausanne upheld the Swiss government decision to force UBS to hand over client data, citing “virtually uncontrollable economic repercussions for Switzerland” if it had not done so. That decision implies that Credit Suisse, too, may be ordered to surrender information about customers’ accounts to American authorities.
Yesterday we mentioned that the IRS’s new Global High Wealth Industry Group was putting the screws to the rich via “Audits from Hell.” Today, the Service announced that they were withdrawing the federal court summons against UBS since the Swiss Bank provide 4,000 more names of American clients who had parked funds offshore.
With the announcement, IRS Commish Doug Shulman put those 4k lucky ducks on notice that they should prepare for their personal audit inferno:
The IRS on Tuesday withdrew its Miami federal court summons seeking identities of suspected U.S. tax dodgers at UBS after receiving more than 4,000 names as required under an August 2009 agreement that also included the Swiss government. Each of those people expect what Shulman called a “full-blown audit” and many are likely to be charged criminally.
But that’s not all! Clearly, not satisfied with the example made of UBS, the Commish made a promise to everyone that the Service’s offshore bank raids were just getting started.
This is the close of what I call the first chapter,” IRS chief Doug Shulman told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “We are actively pursuing a number of other banks and promoters and advisers.”
Shulman declined to get into specifics about ongoing offshore tax investigations, but said: “It’s not just about Switzerland, this is about multiple countries and multiple institutions.”
I.R.S. to Drop Suit Against UBS Over Tax Havens [DealBook]
UBS is finally dropping those 4,450 names it owes the IRS and skates past the civil charges.
3PAR Accepts Revised Dell Takeover Bid [WSJ]
“3PAR Inc. on Friday accepted an increased, $1.8 billion takeover offer from Dell Inc., a day after Hewlett-Packard Co. raised its offer in a bidding war for the data-storage company.
Dell’s revised offer matches H-P’s Thursday bid of $27 a share for 3PAR, whose software helps companies manage and store data more efficiently.
The fight over 3PAR illustrates how important it has become for tech companies to dominate the emerging technology known as cloud computing, in which data are managed and accessed over the Internet. Dell and H-P both sell storage products and see 3PAR’s assets as important additions to their portfolios as large technology companies seek to serve all the needs of corporate-technology departments.”
When Litigation Kills the Accounting Profession-Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned! [FEI Blog]
Jim Peterson of Re:Balane guest posted over at FEI Blog where he discussed his speciality – risk surrounding the Big 4.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Trying To Buy Consulting Revenue Again With Diamond Deal [Re:The Auditors]
Francine McKenna discusses PwC’s recently announced purchase of Diamond Management & Technology including whether some of Diamond’s consultants bailed early to avoid becoming a cog in the another public accounting firm, “Did some of the employees bail out before they were signed on as sterile strategists for an ineffective firm struggling under the weight of consulting ‘leadership’ with audit-shaped heads? I know for sure that there were significant groups of BearingPoint consultants that would have rather masticated glass shards than work for a public accounting firm again.”
Official Statement [Roni Deutch: The Tax Lady Blog]
Roni Deutch says Jerry Brown, California’s Attorney General-cum-Democratic nominee for Governor, is playing election year politics. Seems plausible.
Finance Execs React to Herz’s Retirement [CFO]
No one is panicking.
SEC vows more actions over crisis [FT]
The FT is finally getting to the story about the SEC bringing more actions, changing the culture with new teams, yada, yada, yada. Except not everyone is buying it, “[S]everal judges have questioned the SEC’s deals with Citigroup and Bank of America, and some plaintiffs’ lawyers believe the regulator has been too soft.
‘There’s no real difference now to what it was like before Mary Schapiro became chairman,’ said Jacob Zamansky, a lawyer for investors and longtime SEC critic.”
Boeing Postpones Dreamliner Delivery Until 2011 [WSJ]
You’ll have to come up with a different Christmas gift for the boss this year.
UBS Customers May Have `Mere Hours’ to Report to IRS [Bloomberg]
Since the Swiss Parliament were finally able to give the OK on the agreement to disclose UBS client names to the U.S., it’s only a matter of time until the IRS starts kicking down doors in the middle of the night.
“For UBS account holders, they have mere hours to run to the IRS and hope they can disclose the account before the Swiss hand the data over,” said Asher Rubinstein, a partner at Rubinstein & Rubinstein LLP in New York who said he’s been “getting panicked calls all week.”
The lesson to be learned here, it appears, is that he IRS on a bluff, you are likely to be wrong, wrong, wrong. Doug Shulman doesn’t like to be take for a fool, “We will immediately follow up on the information we receive from the Swiss and we will vigorously enforce the laws against those who have attempted to evade their tax responsibilities by hiding their assets offshore.”
KPMG chief calls for audit reform [Accountancy Age]
John Griffith-Jones, who wishes everyone would get comfortable with the idea of the Big 4, does admit that the question about the purpose of audit is a legit one that should not be ignored, “What is the point, they and others ask, of doing extensive and increasingly elaborate audits of the financial accounts of our banks, when audits failed to identify the huge and systemic risks which led to the near collapse of the Global banking system in the Autumn of 2008?”
Campbell Recalls SpaghettiOs [WSJ]
600 Parish investors sue accounting firm [Charleston Post Courier]
Dixon Hughes is being sued by 600 investors of convicted mini-Madoff Al Parish for their “Comfort Report.” “The lawsuit alleges that the firm claimed to compile the report from brokerage statements, when it received statements generated only by Parish that ‘summarized imaginary account balances.’ ” Oops.
Oh, You Mean Like the Same Fed Audits We Already Have? Way to Go, Congress! [JDA]
“As any accountant will tell you, we perform audits each year to ensure the comparability of financial statements for the sake of investors. Since there is no comparing Fed statements and there are no investors (excluding the banks with mandated stock holdings in the Fed banks they are regulated by), basically all we’re doing is jerking off with our left hands pretending it is someone else doing the jerking.”
Firing squad execution sobering, but dramatic [AP]
And who doesn’t like drama?
Restrictive bank covenants keep the Big Four on top [Accountancy Age]
“Big 4 only covenants” in lending agreements are blackballing smaller firms according to BDO International CEO Jeremy Newman and others. Nonsense, you say? AA presented an example:
Buried in the 81-page credit agreement for US-based healthcare provider Amedisys is a 22-word stipulation that highlights a problem some fear is threatening the stability of the global economic system.
“Audited consolidated balance sheets of the group members… [must be] reported on by and accompanied by an unqualified report from a Big Four accounting firm,” the phrase reads.
There’s no telling how many loan agreements have this exact language but “Big Four” is often replaced by “reputable” so it’s not if the “Big 4 covenant” is cooked right into the template. That being said, AA reports that the Big 4 + GT and BDO admitted last month that the covenants do exist in the UK.
CFOs on vacation: Fewer call office [San Francisco Business Times]
UK watchdog launches Lehman audit probe [Reuters]
The UK’s Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB), investigative and disciplinary body for accountants, has started an investigation into the Ernst & Young’s final audit of Lehman Brothers’ UK operations for the year ending November 30, 2007.
E&Y, completely familiar with this drill, is sticking to their guns, “Ernst & Young’s audit opinion stated that Lehman’s financial statements for that year were fairly presented in accordance with the relevant accounting standards, and we remain of that view.”