Accountants now “Breaking Bad”, Creating Synthetic Numbers

Index of forum topics, talk to us.

Re: Accountants now “Breaking Bad”, Creating Synthetic Numbe

Postby admin » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:45 pm

KPMG and Tax Havens for the Rich : The Untouchables

A story of money, secrecy and greed: a tax dodge for the wealthy dreamed up by one of the biggest accounting giants in the world KPMG Canada devised what it called an “Offshore Company Structure” for a select group of rich clients: they would claim to give away millions of dollars to a shell company supposedly out of their control and therefore wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it. In the U.S., top KPMG officials were convicted of tax evasion schemes concocted there. But in Canada, a different scheme led to a secret amnesty deal with the Canada Revenue Agency. A federal government inquiry vowing to get to the bottom of it went nowhere What was the accounting firm trying to hide? With revelations from industry insiders, internal KPMG documents and secret corporate records from the Isle of Man offshore tax haven, we expose the details of the scheme and unveil the names of some of the wealthy clients. A joint investigation by the fifth estate and Radio-Canada’s Enquete program.

fifth estate image.jpg

KPMG offshore tax dodge a 'facade' designed to hide money, ex-client says
Accounting firm's contracts with federal government questioned
By Harvey Cashore, Kimberly Ivany, Frederic Zalac, Gillian Findlay, CBC News Posted: Mar 02, 2017 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 02, 2017 7:46 AM ET

A former KPMG client says the firm insisted on secrecy when it was promoting a tax avoidance scheme to wealthy Canadians in the late 1990s. (Reinhard Krause/Reuters)

A former client of the accounting giant KPMG says a tax dodge that involved wealthy people gifting their money to an offshore jurisdiction was a "facade" designed to hide money from the taxman.

The client, who spoke to CBC's the fifth estate and Radio-Canada's Enquête on the condition of anonymity, says KPMG made him sign a confidentiality agreement that prevents him from speaking publicly about the tax dodge.

In an exclusive interview to be aired Friday on the fifth estate documentary "The Untouchables," the former client says KPMG insisted on secrecy when it was promoting the tax avoidance scheme to wealthy Canadians as far back as 1999.

Documents obtained by the fifth estate and Enquête show 21 "high net worth" Canadian families signed up for the massive tax dodge from 1999 until 2012 — when it was first detected by CRA auditors — a scheme that deprived the federal treasury of tens of millions.

The KPMG tax dodge stirred controversy last spring when it was revealed the Canada Revenue Agency offered a secret amnesty to the accounting firm's clients who had been caught using the scheme.

· Watch "The Untouchables" on CBC-TV's the fifth estate Friday at 9 p.m.

· KPMG offshore 'sham' deceived tax authorities, CRA alleges

The amnesty offer, leaked to CBC News in a brown envelope, granted KPMG clients "no penalties" as long as they paid back taxes and modest interest.

As a condition of the May 2015 amnesty offer, the CRA itself demanded that KPMG clients not talk about it in public.

Until now, no KPMG client has spoken out about their role in the scheme.

'Escaped the entire tax circle'

The client says the tax dodge was based on a simple — if fictitious — idea that "high net worth" clients give away their fortunes to an Isle of Man shell company. The money would be invested offshore and would be returned back to Canada, again untaxed, also as a so-called gift.

"So basically, I escaped the entire tax circle," the ex-client said.

· If you have tips on this story, please email or phone Harvey Cashore at 416-526-4704

Today, the client, who paid KPMG $100,000 to set up the Isle of Man tax dodge, says the "gift" was pure "fiction" and that, in reality, he never gave anything away.

"I still have absolute control over my money," he said. "The rest was just a facade... Everything else, every bit of piece of paper, everything is window dressing to create the appearance of 'I don't have control over this,' but in fact I do."

He says KPMG told those involved to keep quiet about their involvement.

"They're just going to keep their lips shut tight," he said. "How's Canada Revenue Agency going to detect it?"

KPMG 'emphatically' disputes claim

In a written statement to the fifth estate, KPMG says it "emphatically" disputes the ex-client's claim.

KPMG says its offshore structure complied with "all laws" in Canada and was carefully reviewed by senior executives at the firm before it went ahead.

"Clients were explicitly told … that they were giving up control of the assets," KPMG said. "To our knowledge, no member of KPMG would or did provide any advice or instruction to the contrary."

As a condition of the May 2015 amnesty offer, the Canada Revenue Agency demanded that KPMG clients not talk about it in public. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Still, the former client insists that's exactly what he was told, in private.

"Nobody gives away $20 million to an Isle of Man company and says: 'Hey, I busted my ass for 20 years to make it, but you know what, I'm feeling generous today so you can have it all, no strings attached.' I don't think so, not for a 100 grand cheque that you just wrote to KPMG."

In court documents, the Canada Revenue Agency has also alleged that the KPMG scheme was a "sham" that "intended to deceive" the federal treasury.

Annual fee alleged

the fifth estate/Enquête investigation also looks at how much money KPMG made from its tax scheme.

The accounting giant is coming under scrutiny for its testimony before the House of Commons finance committee last spring.

The committee, which had begun a probe into why the CRA offered amnesty to those wealthy clients, called KPMG's former global head of tax, Gregory Wiebe, as its first witness.

mage removed by sender. Gregory Wiebe
Gregory Wiebe, former global head of tax for KPMG, testified at the House of Commons finance committee there were 16 'implementations' of the scheme. (Parliament of Canada)

MPs wanted to know exactly how much money KPMG itself made from running the offshore tax dodge.

Wiebe testified that the "total revenue" that KPMG received from the tax scheme was a $100,000 start up fee for each client.

"It was a fixed fee per implementation, it was not a contingent fee or whatever," Wiebe told MPs.

In other words, the firm did not earn fees based on the taxes dodged by their clients.

However, new records in a Vancouver court action appear to show KPMG made far more money off the scheme than they told the House of Commons committee.

Apparent contradiction

Documents filed in the Tax Court of Canada in January show that one wealthy family stated they paid a yearly fee to KPMG "based on" their "annual tax savings."

In that one case alone, KPMG earned additional annual payments that totalled $300,000 over several years, according to the documents.

In a statement to CBC News, KPMG says those court documents filed in the Vancouver tax court case contain unproven court allegations.

"[KPMG] provided accurate information to the finance committee on this point and on all other points in his testimony."

KPMG may also have understated the number of offshore companies it set up for Canadian multimillionaires and billionaires, according to the fifth estate/Enquête investigation.

· KPMG officals tells MPs firm no longer in tax-shelter business

· KPMG promoted hiding money from wealthy clients' ex-spouses in offshore 'sham'

Wiebe testified at the finance committee there were 16 "implementations" of the scheme.

However, using search techniques the fifth estate and Enquête developed using the Isle of Man's public registry, journalists found five additional structures set up for wealthy Canadian families.

KPMG now says it did create those five structures, but didn't mention those numbers to the finance committee because those clients "aborted" their involvement in the scheme before they dodged any taxes.

'Lack of credibility'

Sherbrooke University tax Prof. Marwah Rizqy says KPMG should have included those additional Canadian families in its totals to the finance committee and to the Canada Revenue Agency.

"It's very important to disclose that type of information," Rizqy said. "Here we're talking about a tax structure, about the intention to evade tax. The CRA can go and investigate these families and see if they actually did something else."

mage removed by sender. Marwah Rizqy
Marwah Rizqy, a tax professor at Sherbrooke University, says KPMG should have disclosed the five additional tax structures to authorities. (CBC)

Rizqy says KPMG's testimony before the committee is concerning.

"There's a lack of credibility here," Rizqy said. "They misled the Parliament, they also misled Canadians."

· Experts testifying in Otttawa about KPMG warned not to mention offshore tax scheme

· Isle of Man tax dodge could violate Income Tax Act, KPMG insiders cautioned

The inquiry was abruptly halted last June after KPMG lawyers sent a letter to MPs on the finance committee.

Lawyers for the accounting firm complained that it would be "fundamentally unfair and improper" for the inquiry to hear from tax experts critical of the offshore scheme amid ongoing court cases.

Critics pointed out that KPMG only sent the letter to the finance committee after its former head of global tax, Wiebe, had already given his side of the story.

'It doesn't make any sense'

Rizqy, who has reviewed internal KPMG and other court documents in the Isle of Man scheme, questions why the federal government continues to do business with KPMG in light of the revelations.

The firm was brought in to audit the F-35 fighter jet spending, as well as Senate travel expenses, for example.

In 2016, the federal government gave KPMG at least $9 million in contracts, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada. During the previous government, KPMG was given more than $80 million in government contracts.

· Top Canadian law firm endorsed controversial KPMG Isle of Man tax dodge

"It doesn't make any sense," Rizqy said. "I mean if on one hand we know that you're promoting tax shelters, you should be banned to be part of any public contract. I think it's the time to ask KPMG to step aside from every public contract."

Rizqy — who is in the running to be a candidate for the Liberal Party in an upcoming federal byelection in Quebec — does not shy away from criticizing Ottawa's handling of the KPMG affair.

She is recommending the Liberal government call a full-scale inquiry into the KPMG revelations, including the secret amnesty deal it negotiated with the CRA for its wealthy clients.

"I think this is the time to conduct a real investigation about KPMG, about the deal, about the tax structure."

· CRA offered amnesty to wealthy KPMG clients in offshore tax 'sham'

· If you have tips on this story, please email or phone Harvey Cashore at 416-526-4704
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: Accountants “Breaking Bad”, Creating Synthetic Numbers

Postby admin » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:42 pm ... -kpmg-inc/

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 9.47.03 PM.png

JUNE 6, 2017
A Little Crooked House: Trudeau, Morneau, BMO & KPMG Inc

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau has recently reinvigorated his promise to crack down on tax evasion schemes, but how can we trust him when he is himself named in the Panama Papers? This issue, buried in the back-pages of last year’s CBC coverage, is not raised by any of the major media outlets in Canada in connection with Morneau’s current determination to “lay down the gauntlet” on tax loopholes.

In other countries like Iceland and Pakistan, and perhaps even Britain, government leaders have been forced to resign or subjected to criminal investigations as part of the fall-out of the Panama Papers.
If, as the Toronto Star claims, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is now under orders from Morneau to pursue Criminal Charges against “tax cheats”, shouldn’t they be investigating their own boss? Or is this another case of the old political trick of “hiding in plain sight”?

There is no doubt that as Executive Chair of Morneau Shepell, the pension and investments consulting firm he inherited from his father, Morneau was responsible for hiring the legal services of Lennox Corporate Services Ltd., to set up a tax evasion scheme in the Bahamas. According to the ICIJ site this was done in February of 2014, and Morneau did not retire from the firm until October 2015.

The excuses offered for Morneau are that, according the CBC, Morneau “resigned from Morneau Shepell and its Bahamian subsidiary before being sworn in as a minister”; and that, according to the National Post, Morneau is subject to a conflict of interest “screen” in regard to his family business.
Wait a minute, won’t Morneau still benefit from the proceeds of his crime when he retires from politics? What a great maneuver, go into politics in order to escape responsibility for tax evasion!

Now, if you “follow the money” a little further, you find that Morneau is not alone. Take for example his boss, Justin Trudeau’s claim to have been “entirely and completely transparent” about his family’s finances; that is the millions of dollars he inherited from his father (am I beginning to sense a pattern here?). Yes, he openly said that he placed his money in a “blind” trust with BMO private banking, and yes BMO is professionally audited by one of the Big Four international accounting firms – KPMG, so you will never find Trudeau’s name in the Panama Papers, right?

Not so fast, what about the fact that KPMG is named in the Panama Papers? So, it happens, is BMO Nesbitt Burns, part of the complex private banking system where Trudeau has parked his money! And what about the fact that KPMG is BMO’s auditor? And that BMO is the largest contributor to the Trudeau Foundation of the major Canadian Banks etc… and oh, and by the way, KPMG also happen to be the auditors for Morneau Shekel.

The plot thickens when we consider that KPMG is likely also cooking the Liberal Party’s books. Democracy Watch, has recently accused Trudeau of a conflict of interest by hiring KPMG executive John Herhalt to manage the Liberal Party’s finances.
The problem with KPMG is not just that it is named in the Panama Papers, nor that KPMG has a long history of the fraudulent misrepresentation of its client’s books. For example, KPMG is under investigation by US Senators Warren and Markey of Massachusetts for its part in facilitating the fraudulent representation of Wells Fargo accounts during the 2008 financial crisis.
The problem with KPMG is that it is currently under investigation by the CRA for its tax evasion projects on the Isle of Man. This past week NDP leader Thomas Mulcair asked the following Question in the House of Commons:
“Five weeks after KPMG was ordered to maintain all records during an ongoing investigation, a group of offshore shell companies set up by KPMG went ahead and shredded documents related to that probe. This is the very definition of obstruction of justice.

Then the Liberals blocked the investigation into KPMG.

I am curious. Is there any other way the Liberal front bench can twist obstruction of justice and sweetheart deals for crooked billionaires into support for the middle class?”

Well, there may be one. When the little crooked Trudeau-Morneau household runs into trouble with the law in Canada, it can always turn to its so-called opponents, the Conservative Party and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, to set-up meetings with giant US firms “Blackstone”, and its spin-off “Blackrock” – the largest private equity and assets management firms in the world – to raise some cash.

Mulroney happens to be on the Board of Blackstone, and his daughter Caroline, who just announced her interest in a “political career”, is married to Andrew Lapham, executive advisor to Blackstone based in Toronto. It was through Mulroney that Trudeau arranged for Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone’s CEO, to advise the Liberal cabinet on relations with the new Trump administration. No doubt Blackstone’s connections with the Liberal Party will be of use when it comes to the pursuit of Canadian investment opportunities such as its current interest in the purchase of beleaguered mortgage lending firm Home Capital.

Not to be outdone, Blackrock’s global head of active equities, Mark Wiseman, has wormed his way onto Morneau’s economic growth advisory council. In this capacity he organized Blackrock’s recent investor summit held in Toronto, to which Trudeau made his pitch for “leveraging private capital” in the form of a new Canadian public-private infrastructure bank.

Of course, Blackstone and Blackrock are also named in the Panama Papers.
Sadly, Canadians may never see any benefits from the circulation of all this international finance capital if it is ultimately destined for off shore tax havens. I guess this is what Marx meant when he said that “the executive of the modern state is but a committee for the management of the affairs of the bourgeoisie”.
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:47 am

image005.jpg (47.21 KiB) Viewed 12858 times

Begin forwarded message:

From: Communications <>
Date: August 1, 2017 at 9:52:12 AM EDT
To: Joseph Killoran <>

Subject: RE: Q. has our GOC OAG approved Cda's switch from CDN GAAP to IFRS accounting practices?

Dear Mr. Killoran:

Thank you for your follow up email.

As we stated in our previous email, it is not the role of the Office of the Auditor General to advocate specific legislative measures or standards, nor are we involved in the process of creating legislation or standards.

Each year, the Office audits the federal government’s summary financial statements, the results of which are published annually in the Public Accounts of Canada, the summary financial statements of the governments of Nunavut, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, and the financial statements of most Crown corporations and many federal organizations. The Office does not choose to audit crown corporations or federal organizations based on which accounting standards they apply use but rather because the audit obligation is set out in the Auditor General Act and the Financial Administration Act.

All audit staff have a graduate degree, or a bachelor’s degree and professional designation (like CPA, CGA, ACCA etc.), at a minimum. Since the IFRS and PSAS accounting transitions, accounting standards have significantly increased both in complexity and volume. Financial auditors are now required to work with multiple financial reporting frameworks that are constantly evolving at a fast pace. In response to this, the Office has renewed its accounting training strategy and has entered into a partnership with Deloitte for accounting training services. This approach provides the Office’s auditors with learning opportunities that both promote the development of technical accounting skills and the application of knowledge in practical situations.


Office of the Auditor General of Canada / Tel: 1-888-761-5953 / TTY: 613-954-8042

Bureau du vérificateur général du Canada / Tél : 1-888-791-5359 / ATS : 613-954-8042

From: Joseph Killoran []
Sent: July-25-17 7:21 PM
To: Communications <>
Subject: Re: Q. has our GOC OAG approved Cda's switch from CDN GAAP to IFRS accounting practices?

ATTN: Michael Ferguson, FCA
GOC Auditor General
Office of the Auditor General

Re: Q. has our GOC OAG approved Cda's switch from CDN GAAP to IFRS accounting practices?

“I understand from your reply that a Crown corporation, that adopts IFRS accounting practices can be, or is, audited by your office (OAG). Correct?

My question is very simple and basic for the credibility of the OAG audits, and our GOC OAG itself.

Do your field auditors receive adequate training to be able to detect all of the trickery that is inherent in IFRS?

Related thereto, what is the source of your GOC OAG-based (and I profoundly must pray it is not our Big Four Audit firm based) audit education and training?

Please see Gretchen Morgenson's 07-07-17 column @ ... anada.html
and in my original email to you on July 8, 2017, below.

IFRS has especially serious deficiencies that are being easily manipulated in Canada.

IFRS is not just destined to facilitate and perpetuate huge financial frauds, they are already beginning to surface after only 6.5 years.

Q. And do you personally Michael / does your GOC OAG want these beyond embarrassing financial euthanasia instigating IFRS implosions of the sacred savings of retirees and the coming will be threatening sovereignty of Canada as a nation be on your personal record as our GOC AG?”



Sent from my iPhone

Joe Killoran
1 (905) 767-7747

From: Communications <>
Date: July 18, 2017 at 3:34:58 PM EDT
To: Joseph Killoran <>
Subject: RE: Q. has our GOC OAG approved Cda's switch from CDN GAAP to IFRS accounting practices?

Dear Mr. Killoran:

Thank you for your email.

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada conducts independent audits of the programs and activities of federal government departments and agencies, Crown corporations and other federal entities, and reports its findings to Parliament.

It is not the role of the Office to advocate specific legislative measures or standards, nor are we involved in the process of creating legislation or the standards. The Office does however use the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to complete Financial Statements of departments and some crown corporations.


Office of the Auditor General of Canada / Tel: 1-888-761-5953 / TTY: 613-954-8042

Bureau du vérificateur général du Canada / Tél : 1-888-791-5359 / ATS : 613-954-8042

From: Joseph Killoran []
Sent: July-08-17 6:57 AM
To: Communications <>
Subject: Q. has the OAG approved Cda's switch from GAAP to IFRS accounting practices?

ATTN: Michael Ferguson, FCA

Q. has the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) approved / anointed / given his blessing to Canada's switch from GAAP to IFRS accounting principles?

Best regards,

Joe Killoran, 1979 Ethical Ivey MBA
Kimberley, ON
iPhone cell: 1 (905) 767-7747

Begin forwarded message:

From: Joseph Killoran <>
Date: July 7, 2017 at 4:05:04 PM EDT
To: NDP MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault <>
Cc: "Right Hon. PM Justin Trudeau" <>, "Hon. William Morneau" <>, "Hon. Kathleen Wynne Premier" <>, "Hon. Debby Matthews" <>

Subject: 07-07-17 NYTimes: Warren Buffett Invests in Canada, but Should You?

Business Day ... anada.html
Warren Buffett Invests in Canada, but Should You?
Image removed by sender.
The forensic accountant Al Rosen, who founded the Accountability Research Corporation with his son Mark, wants people to be wary of investing in Canadian stocks.
JULY 7, 2017
Fair Game
When Warren Buffett acts, investors notice. And after he took a roughly $300 million position last month in Home Capital Group, a troubled Canadian mortgage underwriter, some investors saw it as a vote of confidence not only in that company, but also in Canadian stocks over all.
Al Rosen takes a different view. A veteran forensic accountant and independent equity analyst who predicted the collapse of Nortel Networks, the Canadian telecom company, two years before its 2009 demise, Mr. Rosen has a message for people investing in Canadian stocks: be wary.
It is a mystery to Mr. Rosen why Mr. Buffett bought into Home Capital Group, a company that has been the subject of a titanic battle between the investors who believe in the company and other investors — short sellers — who do not. Certainly, Mr. Buffett expects to make money on his deal. But in an interview, Mr. Rosen said he thought there was more to the story than the markets yet know.
Mr. Rosen is certain of this: International accounting rules followed by Canadian companies since 2011 are putting investors in Canadian stocks — not just Home Capital Group’s — at peril. Canada’s rules, which are substantially different from the generally accepted accounting principles (G.A.A.P.) governing American companies, give much more leeway to corporate managers when it comes to valuing assets and recording cash flows.
In addition, a 1997 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada has severely limited investors in suing company auditors for malpractice. Combined, these two factors generally make Canadian stocks a danger zone, Mr. Rosen said.
American investors often fail to recognize this, though, because they assume Canadian companies are abiding by American accounting standards. “I’ve been trying to alert investors in the U.S. to this,” Mr. Rosen said in an interview. “But there’s just that belief that Canada is following U.S. standards when it’s not.”
Mr. Rosen provides forensic accounting services and also works with his son Mark Rosen at the Accountability Research Corporation in Toronto. The two men recently published a book called “Easy Prey Investors: Why Broken Safety Nets Threaten Your Wealth.”
In Mr. Rosen’s view, the international accounting standards followed by Canadian companies allow managers to apply overly rosy assumptions to the financial figures they report to investors. For a while, these assumptions can propel stock prices — and executive bonuses — well beyond where they would be otherwise, he said.
Canadian accounting rules can also mask problems at a company. How else, Mr. Rosen asked, to explain the events leading up to the June 22 bankruptcy filing by Sears Canada? The company’s shares trade on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq market in the United States.
Like many retailers, Sears Canada’s fiscal year ends in January. It compiled its 2016 annual financial statement in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, set by the International Accounting Standards Board, a group of experts from an array of countries.
Sears Canada’s numbers weren’t good. Both revenues and same-store sales had fallen, but it reported shareholders’ equity of 222 million Canadian dollars (about $171 million) and 1.24 billion Canadian dollars ($956 million) in total assets.
In the report, company management characterized Sears Canada as a going concern. In accounting parlance, that meant the business was expected to operate without the threat of liquidation for the next 12 months.
The auditor for Sears Canada did not challenge this view and assigned the company an unqualified — or “clean” — opinion on April 26. The report fairly represented Sears Canada’s financial position, the opinion said. And that opinion may well have been justified under Canadian rules.
On April 26, an International Financial Reporting Standards auditor assigned Sears Canada an unqualified — or “clean” — opinion after evaluating its annual financial statement. On June 22, the company filed for bankruptcy.
Less than two months later, Sears Canada was bankrupt.
“What are the auditing and accounting rules in Canada that allow you to give this totally clean opinion on a company and you can’t even look beyond six weeks?” Mr. Rosen asked. “That’s the scary situation with Sears, and we’re just seeing it more and more on other cases coming forward.”
Canada is not alone in following the International Financial Reporting Standards, or I.F.R.S. Some 150 jurisdictions in Europe, Africa, Asia and elsewhere also use these rules. Many are underdeveloped nations whose previous accounting rules were none too stringent.
The international standards came about in 2002, when the European Union required adherence to them for all its listed companies beginning in 2005. The rules are designed to “bring transparency, accountability and efficiency to financial markets,” the I.F.R.S. Foundation says in a mission statement on its website.
But that’s not the outcome, Mr. Rosen said. In practice, the rules allow company executives to inflate their revenues and hide excessive acquisition costs. They also let managers overstate assets and understate liabilities, he said.
Not all managers will do so, of course. But Mr. Rosen’s forensic accounting work has taught him that “for every honest manager, there’s a cheat waiting to pounce.”
A spokeswoman for the I.F.R.S. Foundation, Kirstina Reitan, said its members disagree with Mr. Rosen’s take. “The success of accounting standards depends on companies applying them properly and exercising sound judgment,” she said in an emailed statement. “Both U.S. G.A.A.P. and I.F.R.S. are high-quality standards, and one is not more prone to abuse than the other.”
Still, the differences between the two standards can be significant. Consider, for example, the approach taken to recognizing revenue under the international standards.
Under these rules, companies can record revenues based on only a 50.001 percent probability of eventually collecting the money — something Mr. Rosen calls the “more-likely-than-not rule.” By contrast, under American guidelines, managers must have a reasonable assurance that they will generate the revenues before they can record them; companies generally interpret this as 70 percent to 80 percent certainty, he said.
Valuing assets is another problem with international standards, Mr. Rosen said. Under the generally accepted accounting principles used in Canada before 2011, a company would have to complete the sale of a property or building before recording the results of the transaction for financial reporting purposes.
Because the international standards instead focus on current value accounting, executives have much more freedom to assign value to assets that may or may not be real.
Mr. Rosen presents a hypothetical example in his book. Say a company owns a building that may sell for $10 million. But based on medium-term contracts, the company’s managers assess the building’s current value at $18 million. In Canada, the managers can use the higher figure in the company’s financial statements.
What can these differences mean to a particular company? In “Easy Prey Investors,” Mr. Rosen presents a side-by-side example of one public company’s 2011 financial results based on the previously applicable generally accepted accounting principles and the new international standards. The company, which owned rental properties, showed a $4 million loss under G.A.A.P. and an $82 million profit under the international standards.
“Many Canadian-traded stocks are trying to appear more financially adequate by utilizing the massive holes in I.F.R.S.,” Mr. Rosen wrote in his book. He calls financial reporting in Canada right now “the calm before the storm.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange index is up 6 percent over the past 52 weeks. Although that pales next to the Standard & Poor’s 500 return, it is nonetheless respectable.
Seems as good a time as any to heed a warning from an experienced investigator like Mr. Rosen.
Twitter: @gmorgenson

From: Joe Killoran [mailto:]
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2017 10:55 PM
To: Right Hon. PM Justin Trudeau (; Hon. William Morneau (; Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier (; 'Hon. Debby Matthews, Deputy Premier ('; Maureen Jensen (OSC Chair & CEO) (

Subject: 06-14-17 CDN Accountant: Has auditing become obsolete?
Importance: High
CDN Governance = IFRS . . . International Financial Reporting Standards
Here’s the latest Canadian Accountant column from Dr. Al Rosen, FCA, FCMA, FCPA
For more information on Canadian Accountant, please click here.

Has auditing become obsolete?
Jun 14, 2017
Author: Al Rosen
A new column from forensic accountant Dr. Al Rosen

questions the relevance of auditing, particularly to investors.

Read the new book from
Al and Mark Rosen

Easy Prey Investors: Why Broken Safety Nets Threaten Your Wealth

Easy Prey Investors

How obsolete court decisions, lawmaker inaction, and conflicted self-regulators are facilitating the theft of wealth and retirement savings in Canada.

OVER the past 30 years in Canada, external auditors have significantly narrowed their liability exposure to claims by investors that they gave clean audit reports on materially misleading financial statements. Liability, the responsibility for financial misstatements, has been passed on to others, such as boards of directors. Meanwhile, primarily because of IFRS, investors have found it more difficult to find worthwhile and credible financial information.

Have external auditors painted themselves into a corner? Disclaiming responsibility in many cases, such as looking for unfair related party transactions, leads one to ask just what are external auditors claiming is their expertise, legal obligation and role in Canadian business?

A mismatch has arisen between what investors need and what external auditors are willing to offer. Unless securities acts are revised, legislated audit requirements are at risk of becoming costly nothings, as far as investor protection is concerned.

Who is ultimately responsible for materially misleading financial statements?

Securities cases that address these crucial accounting and auditing issues have virtually vanished from the courts. Lawmakers have permitted auditors and accountants to write their own easy-to-circumvent obligations, such as with IFRS. In turn, auditors have seriously restricted their responsibilities to detect frauds and most control weaknesses, self-dealing thievery, and various liquidity deficiencies in companies.

By far the strangest auditor attempt at buck-passing has brought deep, self-inflicted damage. Auditor-introduced IFRS thoughtlessly dumped 60-plus years of old Canadian GAAP, including many specific and protective prohibitions, and brought an attitude of management freedom to financial reporting. The effects are badly comprehended by most Canadians, which leads to a deficient and unbalanced investing environment.

The differences in philosophy between IFRS and old Canadian GAAP are tremendously alarming. The notion of separately reporting third-party, settled transactions to investors is either seriously downplayed or too often is ignored by IFRS. Yet, for centuries, such reporting has been the very essence of allowing public corporations to exist — the obligation to inform shareholders of what “actually happened.”

The focus of financial reporting in Canada thus has materially shifted from attempting to account for recent third-party settled transactions to one of letting corporate management include, in audited numbers, its optimistic, biased and largely unsubstantiated view of the future. What actually happened in an entity’s most recent period is repeatedly obscured under IFRS.

Further, loose IFRS often allows corporate management assumptions and choices to be rubber-stamped, simply because IFRS permits management “guesstimates.” Consequently, the traditional role of the auditor in society simply vanishes. What is left is management’s opinion of itself, as well as huge opportunities for unwarranted executive bonuses. The declaration that figures have been “audited” is misleading and dangerous to ill-informed investors.

Why bother to audit accounting that is deeply flawed, multi-directional and absent of the many specific rules that prohibit known financial tricks? IFRS is so divorced in scope from an entity’s operating cash flows that it often borders on aiding securities frauds.

Lawmakers and securities regulators must wake up to the severe lack of utility in audited financial statements in Canada. And our profession must recognize that the dire consequence of impunity is irrelevance.

Dr. Al Rosen, FCA, FCMA, FCPA, CFE, CIP and Mark Rosen, MBA, CFA, CFE, provide independent, forensic accounting investment research to investment advisors and institutional portfolio managers. Learn more at Accountability Research Corporation and Rosen & Associates Limited.

The views and opinions expressed by contributing writers to Canadian Accountant are their own. Canadian Accountant and its parent company bear no responsibility for the accuracy and opinions of contributing writers.

Al Rosen
Rosen & Associates Limited
90 Adelaide Street West | Suite 802 | Toronto, Ontario M5H 3V9
Tel: 416-363-4515 | Fax: 416-363-4849

Begin forwarded message:

From: "L.S. (Al) Rosen" <>
Date: February 28, 2017 at 2:29:26 PM EST
To: 'Joseph Killoran' <>

Subject: Decline of Canadian Corporate Financial Reporting



The below article dealing with Canada’s serious problems of declining quality of corporate financial reporting was just released by Thomson Reuters this morning. The article ties in with our recently-published book “Easy Prey Investors.”

As both forensic accountants and equity analysts we are concerned that inadequate attention is being given to a matter where investors/savers money is being diverted from their pension funds and other savings. We hope that you can give this matter sufficient attention, so that your readers/clients are alerted to the dangers of what is currently happening in Canada.

Click here to view book: ... 548190.php

L.S. (Al) Rosen
Rosen & Associates Limited
121 King Street West | Suite 830 | Toronto, Ontario M5H 3T9
Tel: 416-363-4515 | Fax: 416-363-4849

OPINION: Canadian profit statements need a credibility fix

Feb 28 2017 | Al Rosen and Mark Rosen
Canadian investors have been left vulnerable to significant losses resulting from unreliable financial statements permitted by a regulatory system that does more to facilitate corporate profits than safe markets. While most investors are aware of corporate accounting improprieties, such as manipulated profits, Canadian investors have particular reason to doubt the credibility of earnings statements.

Lax regulatory oversight is the primary culprit. Canadian regulators inadvertently enable financial deception through their inaction against vague standards and auditor immunity. Such failings diminish domestic wealth and, when publicized internationally, erode confidence in Canada as a destination for foreign investment.

Auditors, regulators, lawmakers, sell-side research analysts, and financial media all bear responsibility for the lack of reliability in financial statements. Most of these parties have inherent conflicts of interest, and many investors wrongly assume these institutions are responsible for protecting investments.
Several solutions exist, including:
· Forming a national securities enforcement authority separate from provincial commissions;
· Giving a national enforcement regulator full authority over acceptable accounting rules; and
· Introducing legislation that makes auditors accountable to investors in cases of negligence.

Twenty years ago, the body representing financial statement auditors in Canada — Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Canada — convinced the Supreme Court that they essentially owe no responsibility to investors that use audited financial statements. The CPA's stance was that they should not owe a fiduciary duty of care to an unknown number of investors. Since then, investors can only rarely sue auditors successfully for losses based on misleading annual financial statements.

What then is the point of auditing financial statements if investors cannot trust the numbers?
Conversely, why should companies waste investors' money on auditors if the audits do not help investors? Dropping the pretense of investor protection would at least leave investors better informed about where they stand — vulnerable and exposed.
Audit firms are self-regulated, profit-seeking entities whose use by public companies is legally mandated in Canada.

With no other checks on the reliability of financial statements, national lawmakers must intervene to make auditors accountable to investors. Instead, however, Canadian lawmakers and regulators brush off the problem and delegate problems back to the auditors, creating a false sense of investor confidence in Canadian markets.

International Financial Reporting Standards

Since auditors need not consider the interests of investors, they can concentrate entirely on addressing the wants of their corporate clients. Accordingly, Canadian auditors wholeheartedly backed the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). It was an easy decision; looser rules and regulations make for happier companies.

For many nations, IFRS represented progress. The European Union (EU), for example, used IFRS to harmonize accounting rules among member states. For Canada, however, IFRS significantly muddled financial transparency and reliability. The country already had reasonable accounting rules — the Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) — that were refined over decades to address loopholes and investor concerns.
IFRS allows Canadian executives to choose the value of their own assets, with little or no outside verification, if they desire. The situation would be akin to acquiring a mortgage by telling the bank what you thought your house was worth.

The resulting questionable numbers then become cemented into balance sheets, despite not being based on actual transactions or sales. Given the way accounting works, they produce a picture of higher profits (and asset values), which analysts and investors might misinterpret when determining value.
IFRS is overly focused on placing "current values" on the balance sheet, while providing excessive leeway for executives to craft numbers that make them look best come bonus-time. It has shifted attention away from previously fundamental accounting concepts, such as profits triggered by the realization of third-party transactions and high-confidence assurances of cash collection before reporting revenue. Under GAAP, expenses had to be matched to reported revenues, while "conservatism" had to apply when doubts existed.

The new rules have failed investors by creating fake profits, low-quality earnings, inflated asset values, and misstated cash flows. This has created many concerns for parties tasked with financial compliance and risk assessment. Even basic values used for lending practices have been thrown into question now that corporate executives can bolster reported figures based on little more than enthusiastic assumptions.

To defend their position, Canada's auditing industry deploys marketing based on simplistic platitudes that do not withstand deeper analysis. Auditors will claim, for example, that IFRS allows for financial statement comparability around the world. In reality, IFRS does not improve corporate comparability, even within the same country, or even the same industry. In fact, the same company might not even be comparable to itself, from quarter to quarter, under IFRS.
The major problem is that IFRS rules are deliberately light on substance, supposedly to maximize management's ability to reflect their own company. The thinking from auditors is that management knows their company best, so give them the leeway to tell their story.

Ultimately, this allows auditors to rest on the notion that companies "could" be comparable under IFRS. What is left unsaid is that the management of those different companies would need to share a brain. Like asking two executives to draw a picture of a house, given the same instructions and materials, the end results would differ greatly. But if you gave them more rules, greater clarity, defined measurements, and clear prohibitions, the resulting pictures would be closer in substance to each other. Investors do not want to compare a fast-food chain in India to a biotech firm in Canada. They want actual comparability and greater utility of financial statement figures nearer to home.

Proponents of IFRS have neglected the reality that some executives will exploit regulatory vagueness to their own advantage. While there will be shady practices under any accounting framework, IFRS is worse than any rules-based system, because when it comes time to prosecute someone who veers outside the bounds of fairness, there needs to be something of time-tested substance to pin on them.

For more evidence on the deficiencies of IFRS, much greater detail is noted in our recent book, "Easy Prey Investors: Why Broken Safety Nets Threaten Your Wealth."

Securities regulators

Securities regulators in Canada are conflicted, having the dual mandate of promoting domestic markets, while also protecting investors. The fees needed to run the regulatory framework are collected from the issuing companies, whose money and collective voice drowns out those of individual investor advocates. Amid this conflict, the practice seemingly followed by regulators is to introduce limited rules that clamp down on small-time scams, while largely ignoring accounting and financial reporting issues at larger public companies.

Investors need only look at the poor track record of Canadian securities regulators on everything from the abuse of non-GAAP measures to the enforcement failings on cases like Nortel and Sino-Forest.

It does not help that Canadian securities regulation remains fragmented across 13 provincial and territorial jurisdictions, with no national capital markets authority. Recent efforts to establish a national securities regulator were put on hold last year, due to ongoing resistance from some provinces, led by Quebec and Alberta.

Despite repeated false starts over the last two decades, one could argue that securities regulation in Canada has improved its ability to address some white-collar crime. Unfortunately, Canadian regulators do not seem to believe that fighting financial crime should include serious investigation of IFRS deficiencies or of the widespread deterioration of financial statement reliability. In essence, they have deferred to the creators of IFRS to establish the framework for acceptability.

Canada urgently needs an independent national securities enforcement agency tasked with addressing the issues that have too frequently fallen to U.S. regulators to act first, such as Livent, Hollinger, Nortel and other instances ofdual-listed Canadian failures. On a larger scale, Canada must clamp down on pervasive non-GAAP abuses, and take ultimate charge of accounting in Canada, similar to how the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has the final say on American GAAP.


Canadian lawmakers have failed by not correcting the major gaps that leave investors open to abuse. It has been two decades since the nation's highest court ruled that investors cannot rely on financial statements (the Hercules Managements case). The biggest failure has been to allow self-regulation by the audit firms.

Canada must stop allowing self-regulatory institutions to exist unchecked. They allowed auditing firms to choose IFRS on behalf of investors, even after disavowing any duty of care to the public. Quite often, when a conflict of interest arises, lawmakers' first and sometimes only response was to ask SROs to judge their own behaviour, making it a clear case of asking the fox to guard the chicken coop.

Sell-side analysts

Equity analysts at investment banks do not write research for the prime benefit of individual investors, and banks have a profit incentive to encourage the sale of new issues.
There is no better way to facilitate this than to accept corporate earnings figures at face value, and to promote the same in written research reports. While not every research report from a given firm is unreliable, the investing public lacks the crucial ability to effectively screen out the many conflicted ideas.

A well-known example is Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Research analysts substantiated sky-high target prices for the firm on the basis of the company's non-GAAP performance metric. In the year it collapsed, Valeant reported $8.14 per share in "adjusted EPS" versus an actual loss per share of $0.85.
Those compromises in research helped underwriters raise roughly $30 billion of debt for Valeant to fund an extended acquisition spree right up to the point it came crashing down in a haze of accounting and regulatory concerns.

Institutional investors may have access to more of the real picture by paying for special one-on-one analyst access, but much of the official story is obscured by inflated profit figures produced from pliable IFRS rules and non-GAAP adjustments. The lack of independent research providers in Canada, relative to the United States, makes it difficult to find a reasonable balance of opinion.
Re-prioritising enforcement and liability

Lawmakers must make auditors liable to investors harmed by misleading financial statements. No other single measure would do more to clamp down on inflated profits than making those who check the books responsible for the quality and reliability of their work.

Additionally, Canada should establish an enforcement body responsible for deterring and punishing financialreporting abuses. To be effective, the new entity must be completely separate from the existing administrative framework that seems more focussed on easing capital formation.

The new enforcement authority should also have exclusive authority to determine the acceptability of specific IFRS rules, instead of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which seems frequently consumed by European politics, now including Brexit.

A new regulator overseeing IFRS in Canada could also give specific thought to the uniqueness of Canada's resources-heavy capital markets, its past history of financial institution failures, and its penchant for tightly-controlled companies with weak governance.
Until such fixes occur, however, investors, directors, issuers, and compliance personnel need to be aware of the large gaps in regulation and investment safety that exist in Canada and ultimately impact market confidence.

Al Rosen, PhD, FCA, FCMA, FCPA, CFE, CIP and Mark Rosen, MBA, CFA, CFE run ARC I Accountability Research Corp, and Rosen & Associates Limited, providing independent equity research and forensic accounting services.
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:43 pm

The memo outlined a plan that would "target" wealthy Canadian residents worth at least $10 million. It offered them "confidentiality," protection from creditors and the ability to receive money "free of tax."

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 3.41.54 PM.png

In return, KPMG would take a 15 per cent cut of the taxes dodged. Successful KPMG sales agents and accountants were referred to as product "champions." ... -1.3209838

A wealthy Victoria, B.C., family paid virtually no tax over a span of eight years – and even obtained federal and provincial tax credits – while being involved in an offshore tax "sham" developed by one of the country's most respected accounting firms, the Canada Revenue Agency alleges.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) believes there may be many more like them.

Court documents obtained by CBC News and Ici Radio-Canada show that in 2000, Peter Cooper and his two adult sons, Marshall and Richard, signed up for a KPMG tax product in the Isle of Man that targeted "high net worth" Canadian residents, promising they would pay "no tax" on their investments.

Federal probe of KPMG tax 'sham' stalled in court
Tax havens explained: How the rich hide money
Secret files reveal more Canadians using offshore tax havens
In 2013, the CRA obtained a judicial order demanding KPMG hand over the names of all the wealthy clients who set up shell companies in the Isle of Man, a small, self-governing territory in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland.

KPMG Canada is fighting that decision in federal court.

Documents show that between 2002 and 2010, the Cooper family paid little or no tax, despite receiving nearly $6 million from an offshore company. KPMG lawyers claim any money the Coopers received were "gifts" and therefore non-taxable.

If you have any more information on this story, please e-mail or contact Harvey Cashore at 416-526-4704.

The CRA alleges that the KPMG tax structure was in reality a "sham" that intended to deceive the taxman – and that both the Coopers and KPMG knew that $26 million hidden in offshore accounts actually belonged to the Coopers.

"The parties to the structure willfully presented its transactions as being different from what they knew them to be," the Revenue Agency said in tax court filings in Vancouver.

The CRA also alleges that the Coopers received federal and provincial tax credits during the years they were not declaring the income from the Isle of Man. In 2009, for example, Richard Cooper claimed the full home renovation tax credit on a home in Victoria.

The CRA has slapped the Cooper family with an order to repay millions in unpaid taxes and penalties in a "grossly negligent" scheme the CRA says was set up to "avoid detection" by tax authorities.

'I'm being drawn into this'

Marshall Cooper
B.C. resident Marshall Cooper said he was unaware of Canadian tax laws when he emigrated from South Africa in the mid-1990s. (Facebook)

When reached at his home in Victoria, Marshall Cooper said he was unaware of Canadian tax laws when he emigrated from South Africa in the mid-1990s.
"I went to the best people in the country. I'm being drawn into this, and I don't think I should have been in the first place," he says.

Cooper referred inquiries to KPMG, which is also representing the Coopers in their appeal in tax court.

KPMG declined to speak to CBC News about the allegations.

"Professional standards and obligations preclude us from disclosing, responding to, or discussing any matters that involve clients," Kira Froese, KPMG Canada's director of communications, wrote in an e-mail. "It is inappropriate for us to comment on matters that may be before the courts."

KPMG Canada, which is both a tax and auditing firm, is perhaps best known for helping the federal government crack down on public misspending. Yet in the Coopers' court case, it is alleged the accounting giant's Offshore Company Structure intentionally deceived the federal government. The structure "is a sham and was intended to deceive the Minister," the CRA alleges in court documents.

'For internal use only'

Documents filed in court by the CRA also shed light on a secret internal KPMG marketing campaign that had escaped the scrutiny of tax collectors for more than a decade.

Isle of Man
Court documents obtained by CBC News show that in 2000, a wealthy B.C. family signed up for a KPMG tax product in the Isle of Man, pictured, that targeted "high net worth" Canadian residents, promising they would pay "no tax" on their investments. (CBC)

As far back as 1999, a "product alert" was sent to all KPMG tax practitioners across the country and strictly marked "for internal use only - not for distribution or circulation outside the firm."

The memo outlined a plan that would "target" wealthy Canadian residents worth at least $10 million. It offered them "confidentiality," protection from creditors and the ability to receive money "free of tax."

In return, KPMG would take a 15 per cent cut of the taxes dodged. Successful KPMG sales agents and accountants were referred to as product "champions."

Dennis Howlett, the executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, wants to know exactly how much KPMG Canada and its sales agents profited from the offshore scheme.

"They were given the incentive that they could collect 15 per cent of the taxes avoided," he said. "We're talking about millions of dollars here."

KPMG did not respond to specific CBC queries about how many multi-millionaires invested in their "Offshore Company Structure" nor how much money the accounting firm made in sales and commissions.

Marshall Cooper told CBC News he believes there are many more like him. "It's huge - huge," Cooper said, speculating the CRA may find many more KPMG OCS clients.

Millions in undeclared 'gifts'

According to CRA documents filed in court, Marshall Cooper lived in a posh home in Victoria but paid only $3,049 in total taxes between 2002 and 2011.

He even received tax credits worth $5,420, the CRA alleges.

KPMG statement
​Peter Marshall Cooper Notice of Appeal, March 9, 2015
Marshall Cooper Notice of Appeal, March 9, 2015
Richard Cooper Notice of Appeal, March 9, 2015
​CRA vs. RICHARD COOPER Amended Reply, July 10, 2015
CRA vs. PETER MARSHALL COOPER Amended Reply, July 13, 2015
CRA vs. MARSHALL COOPER Amended Reply, July 13, 2015
Government auditors discovered the family invested in excess of $26 million back in 2002 and 2003 with help from KPMG. The money was handed to an offshore company called "Ogral" set up in the Isle of Man, but registered in other people's names.

The CRA alleges the Coopers first "purported to gift their wealth" to the offshore company. However, for years they received millions in non-taxable "gifts" back from Ogral that the CRA alleges were never reported on tax returns.

In their court filings, the Coopers insisted they obtained "substantial professional advice" when KPMG helped to set up the company in the Isle of Man. In their defence, the Coopers also say they consulted the law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain (now Dentons) before proceeding.

In the Cooper case, one CRA court pleading notes KPMG collected $300,000 in fees from the family between 2002 and 2008 based on the amount saved through the tax shelter.

KPMG lawyer Mark Meredith is representing the Cooper family in tax court. In a recent CRA court filing, however, the tax agency names Meredith, as well as now-retired KPMG tax partner Barrie Philp, as being the very ones who "developed the idea of an offshore company structure."

Dalhousie tax professor Geoffrey Loomer says that if the allegations against KPMG hold up in court, the case may have implications for the entire accounting industry.

"It seems to me it's bad from the point of view of the advisors involved, but it's also just, you know, an instance of a larger problem where you have high-wealth, high-income taxpayers arguably not paying their fair share," Loomer says.

"So it just means that more of the tax burden is borne by the middle class."

For more on this story, tune in to The National in the days to come for the documentary "The Isle of Sham." ... -1.3209838
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:29 am

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 9.28.18 AM.png

All over the world, tax revenues are under relentless attack. With help from accountants, lawyers and financial advisers, corporations are avoiding taxes through complex corporate structures, profit shifting, dubious royalty and management fee programmes.

The latest revelations come from some 28,000 pages of evidence leaked by whistleblowers. They relate to Luxembourg, a tiny principality surrounded by Belgium, Germany and France. It is a member of the European Union and has a population of around 550,000, but no major industry and is not known for any advances in science, mathematics, engineering, electronics or anything else that can generate mass sales, employment or economic activity.

Winners and losers

Globalisation has created opportunities for these microstates to create laws that provide shelter for footloose capital through tax avoidance schemes. They might secure some additional revenue through company registrations and a few jobs for local accountants and lawyers. But beyond that nothing of any economic value is created.

The rest of the world is the loser when certain countries offer these tax breaks, as without tax revenues governments can’t redistribute wealth or provide education, healthcare, pensions, transport, security or the other essential services for quality of life and social stability. The tax base of other countries is eroded, creating prospects of austerity and social strife and their governments should retaliate accordingly to end these practices.

The leaked documents show that around 340 major corporations, including Amazon, Deutsche Bank, Pepsi, Ikea, Accenture, Procter & Gamble, Heinz, Dyson, JP Morgan and FedEx have used the Luxembourg facilities. These companies want an educated workforce and the ability to dump sick employees onto the public purse. They want government subsidies, grants, legal enforcements of contracts, policing, security and much more. But, it would seem, they want to pay as little as possible for all those things. This “something-for-nothing” culture is facilitated by tax such as like Luxembourg and the tax avoidance industry.

The biggest beneficiaries of tax avoidance are corporate executives who boost their profit-related remuneration. Shareholders may get higher returns, but will also end up losing social rights to education, pensions and healthcare. Consumers, however, have not seen the price of coffee, washing powders, soft drinks, baked beans, postal deliveries or vacuum cleaners decline.

The Luxembourg papers show that tax avoiders are aided by big accountancy firms who devise complex corporate structures and schemes. This tax avoidance industry maintains its innocence, claiming all their business is legal.

Well, actually we don’t know if they are, because tax authorities have shown little mettle in taking judicial action. There is evidence to show that a number of schemes which previously masqueraded as lawful have been declared to be unlawful.

Organised hypocrisy

The annual accounts of the tax avoiding companies do not provide any clues about how they reduce their tax bills, but their annual accounts still receive a clean bill of health from their friendly and well-paid auditors. Meanwhile, these companies boast ethics committees and publish glossy corporate social responsibility reports that give the impression they are highly ethical and socially responsible citizens, but provide no information about their tax avoiding practices. Their reports are now part of a cynical impression management exercise.

Big corporations and accountancy firms are engaged in organised hypocrisy. Their internal dynamics are aimed at maximising their profits through things like tax avoidance, whilst soft words in public documents promise good citizenship. These two practices can’t be reconciled – and periodic revelations of malpractice shatter the public image they try to carefully cultivate. The result is public outrage and erosion of confidence in big business.

Rethinking the corporation

There needs to be a fundamental rethink about the nature of the corporation, its social obligations and public accountability. Public scrutiny can be enhanced by requiring corporations to publish tax returns together with related documents, such as the tax avoidance schemes. Those participating in tax avoidance schemes, especially when they are found to be unlawful, should not receive any taxpayer-funded contracts, grants, loans or subsidies. Persistent offenders, including accountancy firms, should be shut down.

The laws relating to taxation need to be changed so that corporations are taxed in the jurisdiction where their economic activity takes place, rather than where they choose to reside or book their profits. Such a system is known as Unitary Taxation and deserves attention. Devised nearly a century ago, at a time when transnational corporations and tax havens hardly existed, the present system of corporate taxation is unfit for the 21st century. ... tion-33969
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:26 am

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 9.23.25 AM.png

Prem Sikka is Professor of Accounting at Essex Business School.

The UK is drowning in a tide of greed and complacency, not least among wealthy, educated people occupying city offices.
Examples of this can be found amongst the big four accountancy firms: Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG, which audit 99 per cent of FTSE 100 and 96 per cent of FTSE 250 companies.

Their global income is around £75billion, of which £25billion comes from tax advice.

They have escaped retribution for their role in tax avoidance and duff audits of banks, some would say because they are ‘too big to close’ and wield enormous political power.

The UK’s tax revenues are under attack from major corporations that use ingenious schemes to dodge taxes.
Behind the headlines is a tax avoidance industry often involving the big four firms.
Last year, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee noted that PwC would sell a tax avoidance scheme which had only a 25 per cent chance of withstanding a legal challenge.
As Labour MP and committee chairman Margaret Hodge put it: ‘You are offering schemes to your clients where you have judged there is a 75 per cent risk of it then being deemed unlawful.’

Big Four auditors face disruption to their bread and butter work ahead of new regulations

30 SECOND GUIDE: The Big Four

'Big four' accounting firms accused by MPs of using 'cosy' links to the Treasury to help rich clients
G20 must halt global game of tax avoidance by fighting anonymous shell companies and tax havens
Representatives of the other three firms admitted to ‘selling schemes they consider only have a 50 per cent chance of being upheld in court’.
The former partners of the big four firms sit on the board of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

Staff from the big four firms sit on HMRC committees and write porous tax laws.
Numerous tax avoidance schemes marketed by the big four firms have been declared to be unlawful by the courts.
But this has not been followed by any government probes or prosecutions.

Anyone with such a cavalier disregard for public decency would find it hard to secure contracts for collecting rubbish, but the big firms receive public contracts from the NHS, prisons and Private Finance Initiative.

As external auditors they are responsible for auditing the accounts of financial enterprises, but have been very adept at letting the lying dogs sleep.
The UK has experienced a financial crisis in every decade since the 1970s. In every one, auditors appear to have been complicit.
The mid-1970s banking crash exposed frauds at banks and insurance firms.
Accounting firms also collected fat fees and approved dubious accounts.

The same pattern has continued at Johnson Matthey Bank and the fraud-infested Bank of Credit and Commerce International.
This was followed by the collapse of Barings, and the Bank of England investigators were unable to secure access to audit files and personnel at Coopers & Lybrand (now part of PwC) and Deloitte & Touche.

The auditor silence was also evident at Independent Insurance, Equitable Life and Farepak.
The 2007-2008 banking crash showed that major banks indulged in money laundering, sanction busting and interest rate fixing among other abuses.
Their accounts overstated capital, assets and profits but were all approved by auditors.
Escaping retribution? The Big Four accountancy firms - Deloitte, KPMG,PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young - take in around £25billion in total from tax advice

Escaping retribution? The Big Four accountancy firms - Deloitte, KPMG,PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young - take in around £25billion in total from tax advice
The Co-operative Bank is the latest casualty and its accounts also received a customary clean bill of health on that occasion from KPMG.
A 2011 report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs accused bank auditors of ‘dereliction of duty’ and concluded that ‘complacency of bank auditors was a significant contributory factor’ to the banking crash.
Yet this has also not been followed up by any government investigation or prosecutions.
No government can combat tax avoidance without shackling the big four accounting firms.
The firms should be deprived of all public contracts until they mend their ways and persistent offenders should be closed down.
The big four firms have on a number of occasions failed to deliver meaningful audits of financial enterprises.
Losing out: Numerous tax avoidance schemes marketed by the Big Four accounting firms have been declared to be unlawful by the courts
Losing out: Numerous tax avoidance schemes marketed by the Big Four accounting firms have been declared to be unlawful by the courts
In the interests of financial stability, that task should now be undertaken by the financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, on a real-time basis.
This way there can be no wrangles about access to audit files and personnel.
This reform will also reduce the size of the big firms and encourage meaningful competition for audit of other businesses.
Prem Sikka is Professor of Accounting at Essex Business School.

Read more: ... z3IgRVB63J
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook ... banks.html
Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 9.21.47 AM.png
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:59 pm

Audit firm Ernst &Young to pay $8 million in settlements with OSC | G&M
Accounting firm Ernst & Young admitted no wrongdoing in its audits of Sino-Forest Corp. and another Chinese company, but it has agreed to pay an $8-million penalty to the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), co-operate with a fraud investigation, and changed its internal policies on emerging markets.
The OSC says Ernst & Young was negligent in its audits of Sino-Forest, which failed in 2011, and of athletic shoe manufacturer Zungui Haixi Corp. Both companies traded on Canadian stock exchanges until their shares collapsed after being accused of accounting improprieties. Investors lost millions of dollars.
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:30 am

The predatory practices of major accountancy firms
Despite the evidence of fraudulent schemes, no firm has ever been disciplined by any professional accountancy body
Screen Shot 2012-12-08 at 9.28.28 AM.png

Prem Sikka, Saturday 8 December 2012 11.00 GMT
Jump to comments (87)

'PricewaterhouseCoopers devised a scheme to enable a rich entrepreneur to avoid capital gains tax on profits of £10.7m'. Photograph: Garry Weaser for the Guardian
George Osborne's attack on organised tax avoidance is a huge disappointment. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is investigating some 41,000 tax avoidance schemes, but there is still no investigation of the industry that designs and markets aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

In contrast to the UK, reports by various US Senate committees have been critical of the predatory practices of the major accountancy firms (for examples, see here, here and here). KPMG was fined $456m (£284m) for facilitating tax evasion and a number of its former personnel have been sent to prison, as have some of the former personnel of Ernst & Young.

Now the public accounts committee (PAC) chair Margaret Hodge has PricewaterhouseCoopers PwC, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte in her sights. The PAC should investigate the role of these firms in organised tax avoidance. An earlier internal HMRC study estimated that these four firms "were behind almost half of all known avoidance schemes".

Some of the evidence about their predatory practices is on the public record. In November 2012, a tax tribunal threw out an Ernst & Young inspired scheme that enabled Iliffe News and Media to create a new asset – newspaper mastheads. This asset was created for a nominal sum of £1. It was leased back to its subsidiaries who paid the parent company over £51m in royalties and thus reported lower profits. No cash left the group but the companies now sought tax relief on royalty payments to reduce their corporation tax bill. The company's board minutes stated that Ernst & Young, who audited the company's financial statements as well, confirmed that the use of the scheme would also "significantly lessen the transparency of reported results".

PricewaterhouseCoopers devised a scheme to enable a rich entrepreneur to avoid capital gains tax on profits of £10.7m. A tax tribunal heard that the scheme involved a series of circular and self-cancelling transactions resulting in the creation of assets and disposals which somehow managed to generate a loss of £11m and thus cancelled out the profit. The scheme was thrown out by a tribunal, and in August 2012 by the court of appeal. The presiding judge said that "there was no asset and no disposal. There was no real loss". This scheme was sold to 200 entrepreneurs and if successful, would have enabled them to avoid capital gains tax on profits of around £1bn.

KPMG devised a scheme for an amusement arcade company to avoid paying VAT on its operations. The scheme was not developed in response to any request from the company; KPMG cold called the company. Its presentations were subject to a confidentiality undertaking being given. A 16-page report cited by the tribunal said that by using Channel Islands entities, the company's profits could improve by £4.2mn. KPMG charged £75,000 plus VAT for an evaluation report and counsel's opinion, and a fee of 25% of the first year's VAT avoided, 15% of the second and 5% of the next three year's VAT avoided. KPMG felt that the UK tax authorities would regard the scheme as "unacceptable tax avoidance" and would challenge the arrangements, but still sold it. The case subsequently went to the high court and the European court of justice and the scheme was quashed.

We are all suffering from the bankers' follies. But Deloitte devised a scheme to enable bankers to avoid income tax and national insurance contributions on £91m of bonuses. More than 300 bankers participated in the scheme, which operated through a Cayman Islands-registered investment vehicle. A tax tribunal threw out the scheme and the presiding judge said that "the scheme as a whole, and each aspect of it, was created and coordinated purely for tax avoidance purposes".

The above only provides a tiny glimpse of the predatory practices of major accountancy firms. They create sham transactions, phoney losses and phantom assets to enable their clients to dodge taxes. Despite the evidence, no accountancy firm has ever been disciplined by any professional accountancy body. Despite spending millions of pounds to quash predatory schemes, the UK Treasury has never sought to recover the legal costs from the promoters of the schemes. Instead, the big accountancy firms continue to receive taxpayer funded contracts.

No government will be able to effectively tackle tax avoidance without shackling the designers and enablers. It is hoped that the public accounts committee will investigate the role of the big accountancy firms in tax avoidance. ... ancy-firms
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Accountants “Breaking Bad” with Meth Lab Numbers

Postby admin » Mon May 09, 2011 12:00 pm

Swindlers: Cons & Cheats and How to Protect Your Investments from Them. 2010. By Al Rosen and Mark Rosen, CFA, Madison Press Books, 264 pages, $34.95.

Reviewed by Martin S. Fridson, CFA
Book Review Editor: Martin S. Fridson, CFA

The authors argue that the good intentions behind the International Financial Reporting Standards can be easily subverted through ruses that may be used anywhere in the world. Therefore, it behooves investors everywhere to know how to spot such trickery and protect their investments.

Full Text
Effective 1 January 2011, the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) became mandatory for Canadian public companies. Proponents of IFRS adoption argued that it would enhance global comparability of financial statements. The authors of Swindlers: Cons & Cheats and How to Protect Your Investments from Them argue, on the contrary, that “differences in laws, regulations, taxes, cultures, education, ethics, training, traditions, enforcement, and optimism make uniformity an opium dream.”
Al Rosen, professor emeritus of accounting at York University, and his son, Mark Rosen, CFA, a partner at Accountability Research Corporation, further claim that IFRS will not even ensure comparability among Canadian companies. Certain provisions are overpermissive, they say, meaning that some companies will take liberties that overstate their profits and balance sheet strength relative to their peers. One example of the wide discretion afforded by IFRS is allowing assets to be reported on the basis of historical cost, fair value, or something in between.
Although the authors acknowledge that IFRS represents an improvement in accounting quality for some countries, Canada has taken a step backward in their judgment. Reviewing files from their forensic accounting practice, they find that in cases in which their plaintiff clients received financial settlements, convictions or settlements would have been either impossible or highly unlikely if IFRS had been in force.
None of this is to suggest that the previous Canadian accounting standards protected investors particularly well. One weakness widely exploited by issuers of financial statements involved minimal requirements for reporting related-party transactions. Unscrupulous executives perfected such abuses as arranging for private companies they owned to buy goods and resell them to the public corporations they managed “at cost.” The so-called cost included overhead charges that consisted largely of salaries for the executives and their relatives. The IFRS rules for related-party transactions are even looser than Canada’s old rules.
The authors list several institutional factors that underlie Canadian investors’ heavy exposure to financial reporting manipulation. For one thing, Canada has no national securities regulator, unlike the United States, which created the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934. Canada has begun moving toward setting up a national regulator but has put in charge of the project a former provincial regulator who argued against the need for national regulation until shortly before his appointment.
Second, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1997 that the purpose of audited financial statements does not include helping investors make informed stock purchase decisions. Rather, the justices decided that financial statements are intended only to enable existing shareholders to evaluate management’s performance. The Supreme Court thereby determined that auditors have no duty of care to prospective new investors. This ruling encouraged auditors to cater to corporations, which hope to inflate their share prices, with little fear of being sued by investors who relied on misleading financial statements in buying shares.
The authors catalog a number of outlandish flimflams perpetrated in an environment they see as inadequately policing financial disclosure. VisuaLABS, a company based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, rose to a C$300 million market capitalization on the basis of technologies that included combining several plasma television screens to form a larger viewing surface. The prototype turned out to be one large screen that had been etched with a glass cutter to make it look as though it had been assembled from smaller screens.
Cross Pacific Pearls claimed to have a proprietary technique for growing pearls in mussels. When the mussels it had transported from the southern United States to California failed to produce a single pearl by the scheduled date, the company claimed that the bivalves had fallen asleep in the cold waters of a northern California lake and were hibernating. Eventually, it emerged that Cross Pacific had lent much of the proceeds of its debt and equity financing to two Panamanian companies that disappeared.
In addition to describing classic scams in such businesses as energy exploration, mining, and scrap yards, Swindlers details many telltale warning signs of financial reporting irregularities and deceptions. Particularly helpful is the discussion of cash flow, which some investors regard as inherently more reliable than net income. The authors show how companies can mislead readers of financial statements by netting items on the cash flow statement.
The authors also list a number of classic techniques for overstating revenues. One involves overcharging on shipments to a customer and then rebating the excess to the customer’s employees in the form of expensive dinners or sports excursions. Another gambit consists of booking essentially uncollectible fees for the renegotiation of loans to failing companies.
Because these ruses can be used anywhere in the world, Canadians are not alone in benefiting from reading Swindlers. In addition, with more than 100 companies now permitting or requiring the International Financial Reporting Standards, it behooves investors everywhere to know how the good intentions behind the new rules might be subverted. Al and Mark Rosen deliver the goods with clarity and surprisingly high entertainment value for a book on a subject commonly thought to be dull.
Reviewer Information
Martin S. Fridson, CFA, is global credit strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management, New York City.
Book Review Editor Information
Martin S. Fridson, CFA, is global credit strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management, New York City.
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:46 pm

April 7, 2011 at 8:22 PM ET

How Secrecy Undermines Audit Reform



For the auditing industry, the financial crisis was really not that bad.

While nearly every other group involved in the financial system — banks, mortgage brokers, bond rating agencies, derivatives dealers and regulators — faced severe criticism and new legislation, auditors largely escaped unscathed.

There were, to be sure, a few discordant notes. The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy trustee blasted Ernst & Young for allowing Lehman to use a dubious accounting method to hide its leverage in the months leading to its demise, and the attorney general of New York filed fraud charges against Ernst. Robert Herz, then the chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, complained that auditors had allowed banks to violate the rules on off-balance sheet entities in order to hide assets and liabilities.

But the Dodd-Frank law did nothing to the auditors.

That was in sharp contrast to the previous round of scandals — the Enron and WorldCom accounting frauds that led to the enactment in 2002 of the Sarbanes-Oxley law. That law established the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board to audit the auditors. With a second set of eyes looking over their shoulders, it was hoped, auditors would do a better job.

While auditors may be doing a better job, that does not necessarily mean they are doing a good one.

This week James R. Doty, the new chairman of the P.C.A.O.B., let loose a blast at the job the profession had done — and was doing.

In a speech to the Council of Institutional Investors, Mr. Doty said the board had gone back and inspected the audits of many companies that later failed or were bailed out. “In several cases — including audits involving substantial financial institutions — P.C.A.O.B. inspection teams found audit failures that were of such significance that our inspectors concluded the firm had failed to support its opinion,” he said.

That is, it should be noted, not the same as saying the financial statements were wrong. It is possible that the audit firm did not do enough work to know if the statements were accurate but that they would have been acceptable even to a proper audit.

Moreover, as Mr. Doty noted, “Auditors were not charged with enforcing good risk management practices at financial institutions.” But they were supposed to make sure the statements reflected the conditions at the time. That appears not to have happened at Lehman Brothers, at least when it came to leverage, and it might not have happened at other banks.

What’s worse, the problems seem to be continuing.

In the wake of the financial crisis, no accounting issue has been more critical than the valuation of financial assets. In some cases, banks are now required to report the fair value — normally the market value — of securities they own. That is not easy for securities that rarely trade, and it was made all the harder by the complexity of some securities that Wall Street invented during the boom years. Banks claim, with some justification, that markets became unduly fearful at the height of the crisis, and that market values fell too low.

Investors and regulators could, if they chose, make allowances for depressed markets. But they need to be able to compare banks with one another, and to do that they need to have confidence that financial statements are comparable.

But the accounting oversight board does not think that has happened. In the board’s report of its 2009 inspection of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which concerns 2008 audits conducted at the height of the financial crisis, the board wrote that “in four audits, due to deficiencies in its testing of fair values of investment securities and/or derivatives, the firm failed to obtain sufficient competent evidential matter to support its audit opinion.”

It had similar complaints about each of the other members of the Big Four — KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche.

Unfortunately for investors, the board has not revealed the names of any clients involved.

Nor do the auditors appear to have gotten everything right in later audits, at least in Mr. Doty’s view.

“Although the 2010 reporting cycle is not yet complete, so far P.C.A.O.B. inspectors have continued to identify significant issues related to the valuation of complex financial instruments, among other areas,” he said, adding that the “inspectors have also identified more issues than in prior years.”

In 2002, when the auditing firms had been humiliated by audit failures, their efforts to prevent any regulation failed, but they did win one crucial victory in the details of the Sarbanes-Oxley law. The oversight board must keep secret its most critical assessments of audits unless a firm fails to respond to the criticism. And the board’s disciplinary actions remain secret until they are resolved by the board and the Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled on any appeal.

It is as if the fact a man was suspected of robbing a bank had to be kept secret until after he was not only convicted but failed in his appeal.

That secrecy was justified as necessary to protect reputations that could be tarnished by charges that might later be disproved. In practice, board officials complain, it has led to stalling tactics by firms that figure they can avoid negative publicity indefinitely. The board has asked Congress to change the law, but that seems unlikely.

In his speech this week, Mr. Doty said that several precrisis audits were “the subject of pending P.C.A.O.B. investigations and may lead to disciplinary actions against firms or individuals,” but he of course gave no details. As a result, all firms are tarred, not just those the board thinks acted irresponsibly.

To be fair, the accounting rules give the firms a difficult job in evaluating a bank’s estimate of fair value of securities that rarely trade. Banks have some flexibility in determining how to make those estimates, and the auditor is supposed to satisfy itself that the methods used are reasonable. The board makes it clear in the publicly released sections of inspection reports that banks use varying methods.

As a result, even if every audit were done properly, there would be no assurance that the results would be comparable.

One reason the board exists is that investors were shocked by disclosures in the Enron scandal that local auditors for Arthur Andersen — the fifth member, now defunct, of what was then the Big Five — had felt free to ignore advice on accounting standards from the firm’s technical experts, who worked in what is known in the industry as the national office.

Other firms assured me at the time that nothing comparable could happen in their operations.

But perhaps it can.

In his speech, Mr. Doty quoted from two assurances given by auditors to clients, and discovered by board inspectors. He did not name either firm involved.

One firm promised that the auditors on the scene would “support the desired outcome where the audit team may be confronted with an issue that merits consultation with our national office.”

At least that firm seemed to leave open the possibility that the national office would prevail. Another pitch for audit work went further. It promised, Mr. Doty said, that audit decisions would be “made by the global engagement partner with no second guessing or national office reversals.”

Abraham Briloff, a longtime professor of accounting at Baruch College and a critic of misleading accounting practices — and a man whose articles I had the honor of editing many years ago when I worked at Barron’s — used to tell a joke about a chief executive interviewing prospective auditors and asking, “What is two plus two?”

The winner, he said, responded, “What number were you looking for?”

Now it is board audit committees, not chief executives, who are supposed to hire auditors. But the fact that accounting firms thought such promises would help — and were willing to put the pitches in writing — is evidence that too little has changed since the accounting oversight board was established.

One can hope most firms would never stoop that low to win business, and that most audit committees would summarily reject any firm that pursued such a course. But because board disciplinary actions can remain secret for years, we have no way of knowing which firm or firms have partners willing to make such offers, or which companies accepted them.
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:34 pm

Blame the Accountants — and Deregulation
Posted: 21 Dec 2010 04:03 AM PST
I never want to make excuses for the excesses of Wall Street or the horrific judgment exercised by iBank management — you cannot, its inexcusable — but it long past time we begin holding the Street’s grand enabler’s responsible for their actions.

Which brings me to the accountants.

The New York attorney general may be bringing a civil fraud lawsuit against Ernst & Young, “accusing the accounting firm of helping Lehman mislead investors,” according to the WSJ.

The accountants were the pushers to the Street’s junkies. They allowed all manner of shenanigans to go on, under their imprimatur of legitimacy. From WorldCom to Tyco to Enron and now to Lehman Brothers, most of these frauds would not have been possible without the loving assistance of large and credible accounting firms.

And they did it for the money. Ernst & Young earned approximately $100 million in fees for its auditing work from 2001 through 2008 for Lehman Brothers.

Some people assumed that the death penalty for Arthur Anderson would have kept the industry in line. But such restraint was not to be. Thanks to yet another piece of radical deregulation, the accounting industry was given carte blanche to run wild. The Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 had created a civil liability out for the accountants. It allowed them to legally become Wall Street’s pushers, no longer answerable to Investors who were defrauded due to their accounting audits. It practically decriminalized accounting fraud.

Here is a piece of trivia about this ruinous legislation: Prior to becoming SEC Chair, Christopher Cox was one of the authors of the Securities Litigation Reform Act. When a radical deregulator becomes Wall Street’s chief cop, what could possibly go wrong?

Here is what I wrote in Bailout Nation about the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995:

“This legislation was supposed to be a way to eliminate class action lawsuits that were the bane of public companies’ existence. Buried in the legislation was a little-noticed clause that eliminated “joint and several liability” for those who contribute to securities fraud. The consequences of the change were significant. It removed liability for fraud from the accountants who audited quarterly statements for public companies.

What do you think happened once accountants were no longer liable? An explosion of accounting fraud! The accounting scandals of the late 1990s and early 2000s were directly attributable to this small legal change. So too was the collapse of Enron, which led to the corporate death penalty for Arthur Andersen. We can probably pin the subsequent enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley, which is undoubtedly having all sorts of its own unintended consequences, on that same clause. These all trace back to what the industry itself had requested.

As the saying goes: Be careful what you wish for; you may get it.“

We are left to wonder: Who else has questionable accounting . . .?

See Also:
Auditors Face Fraud Charge
WSJ, December 20, 2010 ... 69366.html

A Lehman Case Emerges More Than 2 Years After Collapse
NYT, December 20, 2010 ... y-be-next/

Ernst & Young Said to Face Fraud Suit Over Lehman
Karen Freifeld and Linda Sandler
Bloomberg, December 20, 2010 ... FUd6bUfTvo
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:23 am

KPMG Sued by New Century Trustee Over Subprime Lender’s Demise
By Sophia Pearson

April 2 (Bloomberg) -- KPMG International, which oversees the fourth-largest U.S. accounting firm, was sued by the trustee for bankrupt subprime lender New Century Financial Corp. over claims it failed in its role as “gatekeeper.”

Negligent audits and reviews by KPMG LLP, the U.S. member firm of KPMG International, led to New Century’s collapse, according to lawsuits filed yesterday in state court in Los Angeles and federal court in New York. The suits, filed against both KPMG International and KPMG LLP, seek at least $1 billion in damages.

“Once an auditing firm lacks independence, then their audits aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” Steven Thomas, an attorney for New Century Trustee Alan M. Jacobs, said yesterday in an interview. “KPMG had a duty directly to New Century and a duty directly to the public. It was acting as a gatekeeper for a company that was at the center of the housing boom.”

New Century, once the second-biggest U.S. subprime mortgage lender, filed for bankruptcy in April 2007 after state regulators revoked its lending licenses and federal officials started two investigations. The company won court approval of a bankruptcy liquidation plan in July that pays unsecured creditors as much as 17 cents on the dollar.

‘Business Failure’

KPMG spokesman Dan Ginsburg said the company hadn’t yet seen the complaint and denied any wrongdoing.

“Any implication that the collapse of New Century was related to accounting issues ignores the reality of the global credit crisis,” Ginsburg said yesterday. “This was a business failure, not an accounting issue.”

More than a dozen shareholder lawsuits have been consolidated in federal court in Los Angeles. The suits accuse New Century of violating securities laws by concealing the company’s deteriorating financial condition. A consolidated complaint alleges KPMG acted fraudulently as it failed to detect accounting and underwriting practices that helped the company deceive shareholders.

KPMG served as New Century’s auditor from 1995, when the company was formed, until April 27, 2007, when it resigned after issuing 12 unqualified audit opinions on the company’s financial statements, according to the New York complaint filed yesterday. The suit is the first to accuse KPMG International of wrongdoing in the New Century case.

“As New Century’s auditor, KPMG failed its public watchdog duty. The result was catastrophic,” according to the complaint.

Dissenters Silenced

KPMG’s audits of New Century violated both professional standards promoted by its international body and regulatory requirements, according to the complaint. Dissenters within the auditing firm were silenced by senior partners to protect the firm’s business relationship with New Century and KPMG LLP’s fees from the company, the complaint said.

One KPMG specialist who complained about an incorrect accounting practice on the eve of the company’s 2005 annual report filing was told by a lead KPMG audit partner “as far as I am concerned we are done. The client thinks we are done. All we are going to do is piss everybody off,” the complaint said.

Ginsburg said this e-mail was taken out of context. The next sentence, which was omitted from the examiner’s report, “indicated that the firm’s national office had already reviewed and signed off on the issue, complying with the firm’s normal procedure,” according to the KPMG spokesman.

KPMG then allowed New Century to file its annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission before the audit work was complete, according to the complaint. Ginsburg said this claim was inaccurate.

Loan Growth

New Century increased loan originations from $14 billion in 2002 to $60 billion in 2006, selling many of those mortgages in securities underwritten by banks. In 2005, the company expanded its business and issued $56 billion in loans.

KPMG International, “as the principal, is responsible for the severely reckless and grossly negligent acts of its agent,” according to the New York complaint.

KPMG advised New Century to alter the way it calculated reserves for repurchasing mortgage loans that didn’t meet certain conditions, according to the Los Angeles complaint. New Century’s calculations for required reserves were wrong and violated generally accepted accounting principles, the complaint said.

Mistakes in calculation grew to more than $300 million and repurchase requests soared to $8 billion once New Century’s true financial condition was known, the complaint said. The company could no longer borrow money to finance its lending business and collapsed owing billions.

‘Professional Standards’

“Any claim that we acquiesced to client demands is unsupportable,” Ginsburg said. “KPMG acted in accordance with professional standards in New Century, and we will vigorously defend our audit work.”

Last year, a report by bankruptcy court examiner Michael J. Missal concluded KPMG could be accused of professional and negligent misrepresentation although the firm had possible legal defenses to such claims. The 581-page report, unsealed in March 2008, didn’t conclude that KPMG engaged in fraud.

Thomas, the trustee’s attorney, won a $521.7 million verdict in a similar lawsuit brought by a Portuguese bank against BDO Seidman, the seventh-largest U.S. accounting firm. A jury found in August 2007 that the firm failed to detect a fraud leading to the collapse of a client of Banco Espirito Santo SA, Portugal’s third-largest bank. BDO Seidman is appealing the jury award, said spokesman Jerry Walsh.

The cases are New Century Liquidating Trust and Reorganized New Century Warehouse Corp. v. KPMG LLP, BC410846, Superior Court of the State of California (Los Angeles) and New Century Liquidating Trust and Reorganized New Century Warehouse Corp. v. KPMG International, 09-3144, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Re: KPMG and accounting practices

Postby admin » Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:04 am

(Advocate create the perfect economic storm, one needs a combination of failures at many levels. Financial experts must fail to be professional, accounting experts, legal experts, and finally government and regulators. Once all of these players are in place, nearly any high level scam is possible, as we have no doubt seen lately. This forum topic is intended to shed light into the failure of professionals to do their jobs, and instead turn into self seeking fraudsters. We all accept that lawyers and financial professionals would stoop to this. When we finally accept that certain regulators and even certain governments that hire them are also in on the game, then we will truly start to understand. Then we will start to protect ourselves.)

Ex-KPMG Manager Larson Gets 10-Year Prison Term in Shelter Case
By David Glovin

April 2 (Bloomberg) -- Former KPMG LLP senior manager John Larson was sentenced to 10 years in prison and former partner Robert Pfaff got eight years for selling illegal shelters that helped wealthy clients evade more than $100 million in taxes.

Larson was also fined $6 million yesterday in Manhattan federal court, Pfaff was fined $3 million and both were immediately jailed. Lawyer Raymond Ruble, a former partner at Brown & Wood LLP, was given a 6 1/2-year sentence. The three were convicted on Dec. 17 of tax fraud and other charges.

“All three defendants were central” to the tax shelter scheme, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said in court. “They were instrumental in moving it through the KPMG bureaucracy.”

Prosecutors told Kaplan that Larson and Pfaff, 66, should get from 19 years and 6 months to 24 years and 3 months. They said Ruble, 63, should be sentenced to 15 to 19 1/2 years.

The convictions, which the defendants said they will appeal, came in a case that narrowed significantly since 2005, when it began as the largest tax-shelter prosecution in U.S. history. The government initially accused 17 ex-KPMG executives, including former Deputy Chairman Jeffrey Stein, and several others of selling shelters that cost the Treasury $2 billion.

Kaplan, who presided over the case, dismissed charges against 13 defendants saying prosecutors violated their right to counsel. The trial resulted in the acquittal of former KPMG tax partner David Greenberg.

Big Four Firm

Charges against New York-based KPMG, one of the Big Four U.S. accounting firms, were dismissed in January 2007 after it paid a $456 million fine. Among those who pleaded guilty to tax charges in the case were the government’s key witness, David Amir Makov, ex-KPMG partner David Rivkin, and former HVB Group accountant Domenick DeGiorgio.

Larson and Pfaff left KPMG in 1997 to create Presidio Advisory Services, a “tax-shelter mill” in Denver that sold hundreds to wealthy clients, prosecutors said at the trial. They worked with Ruble, who wrote letters vouching for the shelters’ legitimacy.

In shelters known as BLIPS, FLIP and OPUS, clients falsely claimed to have taken large loans to buy stock, prosecutors said. Clients seeking a certain amount of losses paid fees equal to 7 percent of that amount. The convictions only related to the BLIPS form of shelter.

Repaid the Government

Kaplan ruled that the scheme caused losses of more than $100 million. Most of the defendants’ clients have repaid the U.S. government, defense lawyers said.

Prosecutors said that the entire fraud generated hundreds of millions of dollars in phony tax losses for the defendants’ wealthy clients and cost the U.S. treasury more than $1 billion in lost tax revenue.

Prosecutors said in their brief that it cost the government almost $1.6 million to bring the prosecution, the largest expense of which was an almost $1.4 million repository of documents.

Kaplan said that the defendants were “motivated by greed” and said the crime was “so raw, so brazen, so outrageous” that it clearly “passed the line” separating faulty accounting from criminality.

The judge said he wanted to send a message to other professionals considering similar wrongdoing and criticized those who seek a “real or imagined loophole” in the system “to make a fortune.”

Kaplan ordered Larson and Pfaff jailed immediately because they may flee the country. Ruble may remain free while his appeal is heard, the judge said.

Larson and Ruble didn’t speak at the sentencing. Pfaff said he wouldn’t flee if allowed to remain free for a brief period.

‘Cherish my Country’

“I cherish my country,” Pfaff said.

In a separate trial now under way in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said Ernst & Young employees including Robert Coplan helped wealthy clients evade millions of dollars in taxes.

The case is U.S. v. Stein, 1:05-cr-00888, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
images.jpeg (3.11 KiB) Viewed 30566 times
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Postby admin » Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:54 am

It just got harder to keep score
Accounting Rules

Hugh Anderson, Financial Post

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Many a sports coach with a losing team might dream of changing the rules for keeping score. Canada's banks are about to realize that dream, just in time for their Oct. 31 year-end. Changes to accounting rules rushed through will allow banks and other financial institutions to postpone recognizing losses on what have come to be known as toxic assets.

Canada's Accounting Standards Board recently short-circuited its normal procedure for introducing new rules of the game and approved the changes in short order. The draft of the changes got cursory public exposure for just one week before getting the nod.

What's important to investors is that the banks will be able to reclassify financial assets that previously required declines in fair value to be recognized immediately in net income, so-called mark-to-market accounting. These are loans and investments for which the market has all but disappeared. Interestingly, the changed rules can be used for accounting periods beginning on July 1 this year. That timing means that banks can use the new rules in their fourth-quarter and yearend reports.

It's quite possible that such reclassifications will enable banks to report substantial net income boosts from reversing previous writedowns. Simultaneously, assets off the balance sheets will grow.

How should investors regard such profit increases? Surely the answer is with a jaundiced eye. Now you see the losses on bad bets, then you don't. Incidentally, you may not have noticed that in the recent congressional bailout package the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission was given the authority to suspend mark-to-market rules at any time it feels it should.

In the government-dominated financial system cobbled together to save Wall Street and Bay Street, these changes in how to keep score are another of the developments that will make it more difficult for investors and their advisors to figure out what's going on. If it's impossible to tell which of the players is losing and which is a winner, good luck in telling clients what to buy or sell or hold.

And you thought you had figured out how to do that when you aced the CFA examinations. Welcome to the financial revolution. You have nothing to lose but your map and your compass.

-Hugh Anderson is a freelance financial journalist and a former investment advisor.
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada

Postby admin » Fri Oct 17, 2008 6:25 pm

Ex-KPMG Executives Sold Illegal Tax Shelters, Prosecutor Says
By David Glovin

Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Wealthy clients, using ``a magical tax-elimination scheme,'' evaded hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes with the help of three former KPMG LLP executives and a lawyer, a prosecutor told jurors at the start of a trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hillebrecht told jurors at the opening of the trial of former KPMG executives Robert Pfaff, John Larson and David Greenberg and lawyer Raymond Ruble that they sold four illegal shelters to hundreds of wealthy clients in a massive scheme to cheat the U.S. Treasury.

They made ``the tax bills of some of our nation's richest citizens disappear,'' Hillebrecht told jurors in Manhattan federal court. ``The tax shelters were out-and-out frauds.''

Hillebrecht's opening came in what was once the largest tax fraud prosecution in U.S. history. The case began in 2005 when prosecutors accused 17 ex-KPMG executives and two others of selling illegal tax shelters from 1996 to 2005, costing the U.S. Treasury at least $2 billion. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan later dismissed charges against all but four defendants because prosecutors violated their right to counsel. After long delays, the remaining four defendants went on trial yesterday.

Charges against New York-based KPMG, the fourth-largest U.S. accounting firm, were dismissed in January 2007 after it paid a $456 million fine. Among the charges facing the four men are tax evasion and conspiracy.

Phony Losses

According to Hillebrecht, KPMG executives realized in 1996 that they ``could make a lot of money'' in the ``tax products'' business. They began creating investments which, while carrying no real risk, generated ``paper losses'' that clients could use to offset income and reduce taxes, he said.

``The trick is to generate a loss on paper that counts as a loss for tax purposes,'' Hillebrecht said.

Larson and Pfaff left KPMG in 1997 to create Presidio Advisory Services, a ``tax shelter mill'' in Denver that sold hundreds to wealthy clients, Hillebrecht said. They worked with Greenberg, a KPMG partner, and Ruble, a partner at the Brown & Wood law firm who wrote letters vouching for the shelters' legitimacy, he said.

Presidio offered ``a magical tax elimination scheme'' in which clients seeking a certain amount of losses paid fees equal to 7 percent of that amount, Hillebrecht said. The shelters appeared to have legitimate underlying transactions but didn't, he said.


In shelters known as FLIP and OPUS, for instance, clients falsely claimed to have taken large loans to buy stock, he said. Banks including HVB Group and Deutsche Bank AG helped Presidio, Hillebrecht said.

``You can't lie to the government to evade taxes,'' he said. ``It's that simple.''

In the first defense opening, Larson's lawyer, Thomas Hagemann, told jurors that his client acted in ``good faith'' amid the confusion and uncertainty of the ``tax world.'' He said it was appropriate in the mid- and late-1990s to sell ``loss generators'' that would help wealthy clients lessen their taxes.

``This trial is about what people believed, in good faith, was allowed under the law,'' Hagemann said, pointing to a stack of books that comprise the tax code and Internal Revenue Service regulations.

Hagemann said that ``extraordinarily talented'' senior executives at KPMG had approved three of the shelters at issue. He didn't mention that three of the executives he named were indicted in the case and had their indictments dismissed by Kaplan.

Lawyers for the other defendants were scheduled to give their opening statements today.

The case is U.S. v. Stein, 05-CR-888, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: David Glovin in New York federal court at

Last Updated: October 16, 2008 00:01 EDT
Site Admin
Posts: 2965
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 9:05 am
Location: Canada


Return to Click here to view forums

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests