Accounting Scandal Updates and Other Fraud Between April 1 and June 30, 2012
Bob Jensen at
Trinity University

Bob Jensen's Main Fraud Document --- 

Bob Jensen's Enron Quiz (and answers) ---

Bob Jensen's Enron Updates are at --- 

Other Documents

Many of the scandals are documented at 

Resources to prevent and discover fraud from the Association of Fraud Examiners --- 

Self-study training for a career in fraud examination --- 

Source for United Kingdom reporting on financial scandals and other news --- 

Updates on the leading books on the business and accounting scandals --- 

I love Infectious Greed by Frank Partnoy --- 

Bob Jensen's American History of Fraud ---

Future of Auditing --- 

"What’s Your Fraud IQ?  Think you know enough about corruption to spot it in any of its myriad forms? Then rev up your fraud detection radar and take this (deceptively) simple test." by Joseph T. Wells, Journal of Accountancy, July 2006 ---

What Accountants Need to Know ---

Global Corruption (in legal systems) Report 2007 ---

Tax Fraud Alerts from the IRS ---,,id=121259,00.html

White Collar Fraud Site ---
Note the column of links on the left.

Bob Jensen's essay on the financial crisis bailout's aftermath and an alphabet soup of appendices can be found at

The Heroes of Financial Fraud, The Atlantic, April 2009 ---

History of Fraud in America ---

Rotten to the Core ---

Bob Jensen's threads on fraud are at

"Justice Dept. Sues Apple and Major Publishers in E-Book Price-Fixing Case," by Nick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 11, 2012 --- Click Here

The Rotten Apple iBooks ---

Bob Jensen's threads on Ebooks ---

Copyright Troll ---

TED Video:  Drew Curtis: How I beat a patent troll --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on copyrights ---

"Psychology Of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things (with cartoons)," by Chana Joffe-Walt and Alix Spiegel, NPR, May 1, 2012 ---
Thank you Jim McKinney for the heads up.

Jensen Comment
This was a very good broadcast. I've tracked fraud for years --

One of the most important aspects of fraud psychology is the follow-the-herd-mentally when those around you are both committing fraud and getting away with it. My best illustrations here are tracked in my extensive timeline of derivative financial instruments frauds ---

Another key ingredient of some large frauds is that white collar crime pays big even if you get caught ---

For some fraud is a disease like pedophilia in that the worst of the worst just seem to not be able to help themselves. Recidivism: is very high after being released from prison.---

In two pending lawsuits and in her first public interview, Ms. Koper described company-paid luxuries that she said appeared to violate the Internal Revenue Service’s ban on “excess compensation” by nonprofit organizations as well as possibly state and federal laws on false bookkeeping and self-dealing.
"Family feud reveals luxuries at largest Christian TV network:  Granddaughter attacks founders, who accuse her of embezzlement," by Erik Eckholm, MSNBC, May 5, 2012 ---
Thank you Dennis Huber for the heads up

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — For 39 years, the Trinity Broadcasting Network has urged viewers to give generously and reap the Lord’s bounty in return.

The prosperity gospel preached by Paul and Janice Crouch, who built a single station into the world’s largest Christian television network, has worked out well for them.

Mr. and Mrs. Crouch have his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community here, provided by the network using viewer donations and tax-free earnings. But Mrs. Crouch, 74, rarely sleeps in the $5.6 million house with tennis court and pool. She mostly lives in a large company house near Orlando, Fla., where she runs a side business, the Holy Land Experience theme park. Mr. Crouch, 78, has an adjacent home there too, but rarely visits. Its occupant is often a security guard who doubles as Mrs. Crouch’s chauffeur.

The twin sets of luxury homes only hint at the high living enjoyed by the Crouches, inspirational television personalities whose multitudes of stations and satellite signals reach millions of worshipers across the globe. Almost since they started in the 1970s, the couple have been criticized for secrecy about their use of donations, which totaled $93 million in 2010.

Now, after an upheaval with Shakespearean echoes, one son in this first family of televangelism has ousted the other to become the heir apparent. A granddaughter, who was in charge of TBN’s finances, has gone public with the most detailed allegations of financial improprieties yet, which TBN has denied, saying its practices were audited and legal.

The granddaughter, Brittany Koper, and her husband have been fired by the network, which accused them of stealing $1.3 million to buy real estate and cars and make family loans. "They’re just trying to divert attention from their own crimes," said Colby May, a lawyer representing TBN. Janice and Paul Crouch declined requests for interviews.

In two pending lawsuits and in her first public interview, Ms. Koper described company-paid luxuries that she said appeared to violate the Internal Revenue Service’s ban on “excess compensation” by nonprofit organizations as well as possibly state and federal laws on false bookkeeping and self-dealing.

The lavish perquisites, corroborated by two other former TBN employees, include additional, often-vacant homes in Texas and on the former Conway Twitty estate in Tennessee, corporate jets valued at $8 million and $49 million each and thousand-dollar dinners with fine wines, paid with tax-exempt money.

In the lawsuits and interviews, Ms. Koper, 26, also charges that TBN has spent millions of dollars in sweetheart deals with a commercial film company owned until recently by a son of the Crouches, Matthew, including poorly monitored investments made after he joined the TBN board in 2007.

“My job as finance director was to find ways to label extravagant personal spending as ministry expenses,” Ms. Koper said. This is one way, she said, the company avoids probing questions from the I.R.S. She said that the absence of outsiders on TBN’s governing board — currently consisting of Paul, Janice and Matthew Crouch — had led to a serious lack of accountability for spending. Image: Religious theme park souvenir Brian Blanco for The New York Times A Holy Land Experience souvenir of a park actor depicting Jesus. Performers are said to be ministers playing roles.

Ms. Koper and the two other former TBN employees also said that dozens of staff members, including Ms. Koper, chauffeurs, sound engineers and others had been ordained as ministers by TBN. This allowed the network to avoid paying Social Security taxes on their salaries and made it easier to justify providing family members with rent-free houses, sometimes called “parsonages,” she said.

The company did not always succeed. Last year, officials in Orange County, Fla., turned down TBN’s application to register the adjacent lakefront houses in Windermere as parsonages, saying they served no religious purpose, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The designation would have resulted in religious exemptions and saved TBN roughly $50,000 in taxes a year.

Ms. Koper said that the company run by Matthew Crouch, 50, who is her uncle, had received an estimated $50 million in TBN money over the years, with little oversight, to finance religious film projects and television shows. TBN recouped only a small fraction of its loans and investments, sometimes forgiving large sums in return for broadcast rights of limited value, she said.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates are at

"Assess Carefully: Don’t Be Duped by Bogus Journals," by Brendan A. Rapple, Inside Higher Ed, June 17, 2012 --- 

This blog follows a previous post on a related theme by Maria Yudkevich, "Publications for Money: What Creates the Market for Paid Academic Journals."

Numerous evaluative criteria may be used in determining a journal’s scholarly worth. A common criterion is a journal’s Impact Factor (IF). However, among the many problems with IFs is that only journals indexed by ISI’s Journal Citation Report have them (over 8,000 in Science and 2,700 in the Social Sciences). SCImago Journal & Country Rank, a portal showing the visibility of the journals contained in the Scopus® database from 1996, is also useful for assessing journals. Another tool, Google Scholar Metrics, facilitates gauging the visibility and influence of recent journal articles and by extension journals themselves. Yet another instrument, the Eigenfactor score and Article Influence score, utilizes citation data to evaluate the influence of a journal in relation to others. Of course, strong pointers about a journal’s quality are usually provided by the status of the body publishing it, the reputation of its editorial board members, the rigor of its peer-reviewing, its acceptance/rejection rates, and where it is indexed.

Another factor in assessing a journal’s worth may be author publication fees. Such fees do not necessarily constitute a red flag as numerous quality open access (OA) journals employ a system of “author pays". However, there’s the swiftly growing difficulty of sham journals whose sole rationale is to make a profit with little interest in disseminating scholarship. Such journals, often with credible scholarly names, publish most articles submitted and charge authors high publication fees. It’s a significant problem that more and more academics are being hoodwinked by these clearly fake journals. A useful resource for determining some of these phony publications is Jeffrey Beall's
List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers.

Though I’m a librarian I receive numerous solicitations to submit articles, together with hefty publication fees, to supposedly scholarly journals and/or to serve on their editorial boards. I suspect that faculty scholars receive far more of these invitations. It’s an epidemic. Indeed, it’s probable that the owners of these sham periodicals when spamming scholars pay little attention to whether the recipients’ academic interests are relevant to the journal’s disciplinary focus. Some scholars are even placed on editorial boards even though they have not given their consent. Generally these ersatz journals, with scientific and technological disciplines being particularly well represented, have abnormally high acceptance rates with minimal or no peer reviewing. Of course, this is a rational modus operandi for the journals’ sleazy operators as genuine peer review that weeds out poor scholarship would thwart their primary goal of making money. The more articles they publish, the more money they make with publication fees of $500 or more per article being common. Moreover, articles are often published with little or no proofreading and checking. Indeed, authors are often not asked for their final approval before publication. Little thought is given to digital preservation. Articles, journals and, indeed, the publishers themselves can disappear without trace. The result is a proliferation of essentially vanity press publishing that benefits the purveyors of these spurious journals and does damage to the academic reputation of the naïve or careless authors who are conned by these predators.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
We also have some bogus journals in accounting research and education, those journals of last resort when your paper has been rejected by three or more legitimate accounting research journals. Sometimes those journals publish proceedings of bogus conferences. Those are conferences held in very delightful tourist places in Europe, the tropics, Australia, New Zealand, etc. where your presentation session will be attended by three "scholars" only because they are presenters in the same session. These high registration fee conferences are attended mainly by professors ripping off their universities for a free tourist trip, and publishing the conference papers electronically is an added bonus of a line on a resume. Does anybody really read those "published" papers for which "refereeing" is a fraud?


Absurdly Successful Tax Frauds
"Woman's Absurdly Unsophisticated Tax Scheme Still Managed to Dupe The Oregon Department of Revenue," by Caleb Newquist, Going Concern, June 8, 2012 ---

As we've witnessed, perpetrators of tax fraud oftentimes utilize very simple methods. Slapping a dead person's name, birthdate, social security number, isn't terribly difficult once the data is obtained; throw some minors on there as dependents and you've got yourself a nice little refund at the expense of some grieving family members. Not complicated. You don't even have to breathe free air to do it!

Typically these frauds are small and repeated dozens, sometimes hundreds of times for a nice little haul. This, however was not the preferred technique for Krystle Marie Reyes of Salem, Oregon who couldn't be bothered with such tedious processes (allegedly!):

According to the affidavit, Reyes used Turbo Tax, a popular tax preparation software package, to file a faked 2011 income tax return that reported wages of $3 million and claimed she was owed a $2.1 million refund. The state authorized the refund, and Turbo Tax issued Reyes a Visa debit card with the full refund amount. [...] State revenue officials did not discover the fraud until Reyes reported the card as lost or stolen. In the meantime, she racked up more than $150,000 in purchases. Reyes, according to the affidavit, paid $2,000 in cash for a 1999 Dodge Caravan and used the card to buy $800 worth of tires and wheels.

Continued in article

Absurdly Successful Mortgage Fraud
Marvene Halterman, an unemployed Arizona woman with a long history of creditors, took out a $103,000 mortgage on her 576 square-foot-house in 2007. Within a year she stopped making payments. Now the investors with an interest in the house will likely recoup only $15,000.
The Wall Street Journal slide show of indoor and outdoor pictures ---
Jensen Comment
The $15,000 is mostly the value of the lot since at the time the mortgage was granted the shack was virtually worthless even though corrupt mortgage brokers and appraisers put a fraudulent value on the shack. Bob Jensen's threads on these subprime mortgage frauds are at
Probably the most common type of fraud in the Savings and Loan debacle of the 1980s was real estate investment fraud. The same can be said of the 21st Century subprime mortgage fraud. Welcome to fair value accounting that will soon have us relying upon real estate appraisers to revalue business real estate on business balance sheets ---

The Rest of Marvene's Story ---

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates ---

When you wish the auditor had been a Big Four firm with deep, deep pockets
"City of Dixon Sues Auditors Over...Ya Know," by Caleb Newquist, Going Concern, June 8, 2012 ---


"The Education of Dasmine Cathey," by Brad Wolverton, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 2012 ---

Jensen Comment
This is an article that each of us will probably react differently to after reading it carefully. Some readers will see this as another case, in a long list of cases, where a NCAA Division 1 university makes a sham out of college education of a star, albeit learning disabled, athlete. By sham I mean where the main goal is to make that athlete able to read after four years --- whereas the goal for non-athletes in the university is much higher. As a non-athlete he probably would have flunked out of the university in the first year. The coaches helped pull him through courses while he was still eligible to play football only to leave him hanging out to dry in completing the requirements for a diploma.

Other readers will see this as a case where a learning disabled student was pushed beyond what he might have otherwise been without special treatment as an athlete in college. The tragedy is that his non-athlete counterparts receive no such special treatment from "coaches."

As a retired college professor I question the commitment of any student who does not care enough to try by attending class every day and by seeking help from the teachers.

Personally, I think if Dasmine Cathey gets his diploma it makes a sham out of that diploma. Dasmine deserves better in life, but why does it have to be at the expense of lowered academic standards in higher education?

I certainly hope this isn't an April Fools Day joke..
"Texas jury slaps $195 million penalty on TaxMasters, CEO Cox (files for bankruptcy)," by Libloather, Yahoo News, March 30, 2012 ---

Jensen Comment
This makes me wonder where this scum bag buried his loot.

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates ---

From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on June 1, 2012

Adidas Accuses Former Officials in India of Fraud
by: R. Jai Krishna and Rumman Ahmed
May 24, 2012
Click here to view the full article on

TOPICS: Accounting Changes and Error Corrections, Auditing, Executive Compensation, Fraudulent Financial Reporting, Restatement, Revenue Recognition

SUMMARY: "German sportswear-and-equipment maker Adidas AG filed a criminal complaint against the former chief of its India operations and another former senior employee for alleged financial and commercial irregularities...of theft, fraud and accounting malpractices that resulted in the company taking a charge of $155 million, or 8.70 billion rupees....The alleged irregularities were uncovered during an internal probe by two Adidas executives between January and March [2012]."

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The article is most useful to cover auditing topics; particularly planning procedures designed to detect fraud, but is also useful for its mention of financial accounting topics of franchise revenue recognition, executive compensation, and fraudulently inflating sales.

1. (Advanced) What is a fraud? What are two types of fraudulent activities?

2. (Introductory) What irregular or fraudulent activities does Adidas accuse two former executives of committing?

3. (Advanced) In which of these two categories of fraud do you think that Adidas accuses its former executives?

4. (Advanced) If the accusations described in the article are accurate, what seems to be the incentive behind the executives' actions?

5. (Advanced) "The alleged irregularities were uncovered during an internal probe by two Adidas executives between January and March." Suppose you are an auditor charged with assisting in this investigation. For each item listed in answer to question 2, identify an audit procedure designed to determine whether or not the suspected irregular or fraudulent activity occurred.

6. (Advanced) What are franchise fee revenues? How should such fees be recognized by Reebok or Adidas?

7. (Introductory) What was the accounting result from these irregularities/fraudulent activities?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


"Adidas Accuses Former Officials in India of Fraud," by: R. Jai Krishna and Rumman Ahmed, The Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2012 ---

NEW DELHI—German sportswear and equipment maker Adidas AG ADS.XE -4.02% filed a criminal complaint against the former chief of its India operations and another former senior employee for alleged financial and commercial irregularities.

The complaint, filed Tuesday at a police station in the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, accused Subhinder Singh Prem and Vishnu Bhagat of theft, fraud and accounting malpractices that resulted in the company taking a charge of $155 million, or 8.70 billion rupees. Adidas also said that restructuring its business in India as a result of the alleged irregularities will lead to a further charge of $87 million, or 4.87 billion rupees.

Mr. Prem was managing director and head of the Indian operations at Adidas Group, while Mr. Bhagat was chief operating officer at the sportswear maker's India unit until their services were terminated March 26.

Mr. Prem wasn't available for comment. Mr. Bhagat couldn't be reached. In previous interviews with Indian media, they have denied any wrongdoing.

Back in April Adidas disclosed that irregularities at its Reebok India division were likely to result in a pretax charge of about $155 million, and may require the company to restate financial statements from last year.

The alleged irregularities are a black eye for the sportswear giant, which had been expanding rapidly in India in recent years. India, until recently, only allowed "single brand" retailers such as Adidas to operate through joint ventures. That has been a deterrent to many global retailers, including Sweden's IKEA, which doesn't have any Indian stores. But Adidas and Reebok, which Adidas acquired in 2006, have been seeking to tap growing demand for branded goods and clothing as the nation's economy grows.

Adidas and Reebok operated independently in India until 2011, when Mr. Prem was appointed managing director of the combined entity. Previously, he was head of Reebok in India. Mr. Bhagat handled finance at Reebok's India unit.

The criminal complaint, filed by Adidas, claims the two former executives diverted the company's products to "secret" warehouses and recorded them as fake sales.

Adidas also alleges that money was "fraudulently" collected from prospective franchisees on the pretext of opening new stores. The executives also are accused of claiming incentives and bonuses based on inflated sales numbers, which resulted in a higher tax payout for the company. And the complaint alleges they overstated receivables.

Continued in article

Replication Paranoia:  Can you imagine anything like this happening in accountics science?

"Is Psychology About to Come Undone?" by Tom Bartlett, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 17, 2012 --- Click Here

If you’re a psychologist, the news has to make you a little nervous—particularly if you’re a psychologist who published an article in 2008 in any of these three journals: Psychological Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, or the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Because, if you did, someone is going to check your work. A group of researchers have already begun what they’ve dubbed the Reproducibility Project, which aims to replicate every study from those three journals for that one year. The project is part of Open Science Framework, a group interested in scientific values, and its stated mission is to “estimate the reproducibility of a sample of studies from the scientific literature.” This is a more polite way of saying “We want to see how much of what gets published turns out to be bunk.”

For decades, literally, there has been talk about whether what makes it into the pages of psychology journals—or the journals of other disciplines, for that matter—is actually, you know, true. Researchers anxious for novel, significant, career-making findings have an incentive to publish their successes while neglecting to mention their failures. It’s what the psychologist Robert Rosenthal named “the file drawer effect.” So if an experiment is run ten times but pans out only once you trumpet the exception rather than the rule. Or perhaps a researcher is unconsciously biasing a study somehow. Or maybe he or she is flat-out faking results, which is not unheard of. Diederik Stapel, we’re looking at you.

So why not check? Well, for a lot of reasons. It’s time-consuming and doesn’t do much for your career to replicate other researchers’ findings. Journal editors aren’t exactly jazzed about publishing replications. And potentially undermining someone else’s research is not a good way to make friends.

Brian Nosek knows all that and he’s doing it anyway. Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, is one of the coordinators of the project. He’s careful not to make it sound as if he’s attacking his own field. “The project does not aim to single out anybody,” he says. He notes that being unable to replicate a finding is not the same as discovering that the finding is false. It’s not always possible to match research methods precisely, and researchers performing replications can make mistakes, too.

But still. If it turns out that a sizable percentage (a quarter? half?) of the results published in these three top psychology journals can’t be replicated, it’s not going to reflect well on the field or on the researchers whose papers didn’t pass the test. In the long run, coming to grips with the scope of the problem is almost certainly beneficial for everyone. In the short run, it might get ugly.

Nosek told Science that a senior colleague warned him not to take this on “because psychology is under threat and this could make us look bad.” In a Google discussion group, one of the researchers involved in the project wrote that it was important to stay “on message” and portray the effort to the news media as “protecting our science, not tearing it down.”

The researchers point out, fairly, that it’s not just social psychology that has to deal with this issue. Recently, a scientist named C. Glenn Begley attempted to replicate 53 cancer studies he deemed landmark publications. He could only replicate six. Six! Last December I interviewed Christopher Chabris about his paper titled “Most Reported Genetic Associations with General Intelligence Are Probably False Positives.” Most!

A related new endeavour called Psych File Drawer allows psychologists to upload their attempts to replicate studies. So far nine studies have been uploaded and only three of them were successes.

Both Psych File Drawer and the Reproducibility Project were started in part because it’s hard to get a replication published even when a study cries out for one. For instance, Daryl J. Bem’s 2011 study that seemed to prove that extra-sensory perception is real — that subjects could, in a limited sense, predict the future — got no shortage of attention and seemed to turn everything we know about the world upside-down.

Yet when Stuart Ritchie, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and two colleagues failed to replicate his findings, they had a heck of a time getting the results into print (they finally did, just recently, after months of trying). It may not be a coincidence that the journal that published Bem’s findings, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is one of the three selected for scrutiny.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment

Scale Risk
In accountics science such a "Reproducibility Project" would be much more problematic except in behavioral accounting research. This is because accountics scientists generally buy rather than generate their own data (Zoe-Vonna Palmrose is an exception). The problem with purchased data from such as CRSP data, Compustat data, and AuditAnalytics data is that it's virtually impossible to generate alternate data sets, and if there are hidden serious errors in the data it can unknowingly wipe out thousands of accountics science publications all at one --- what we might call a "scale risk."

Assumptions Risk
A second problem in accounting and finance research is that researchers tend to rely upon the same models over and over again. And when serious  flaws were discovered in a model like CAPM it not only raised doubts about thousands of past studies, it made accountics and finance researchers make choices about whether or not to change their CAPM habits in the future. Accountics researchers that generally look for an easy way out blindly continued to use CAPM in conspiracy with journal referees and editors who silently agreed to ignore CAPM problems and limitations of assumptions about efficiency in capital markets---
We might call this an "assumptions risk."

Hence I do not anticipate that there will ever be a Reproducibility Project in accountics science. Horrors. Accountics scientists might not continue to be the highest paid faculty on their respected campuses and accounting doctoral programs would not know how to proceed if they had to start focusing on accounting rather than econometrics.

Bob Jensen's threads on replication and other forms of validity checking ---

In 2011 what were the main causes of financial statement restatements?

"Restatements Flat in 2011, Foreign Firms Lead Pack," Maxwell Murphy, The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2012 ---

Financial restatements were essentially flat in 2011 compared with 2010, and foreign firms continue to post the largest restatements, according to new research.

Audit Analytics said 702 unique filers produced 787 restatements last year, down from 790 restatements in 2010 and up from 708 restatements in 2009. In 2006, 1,560 unique filers produced 1,790 restatements.

For the seventh straight year, the most common issue causing companies to restate prior results was accounting for debt, quasi-debt, warrants and equity, with 23.1% of all restatements last year related to those security-related issues. For the fifth consecutive year, recording expenses like payroll and selling, general and administrative costs came in second.

The largest adjustment in 2011 was a $1.55 billion negative revision by China Unicom. Audit Analytics noted that this is the third year in a row where the largest negative restatement was disclosed by a foreign company, and in 2011 a foreign company also ranked No. 2 behind China Unicom.


Bob Jensen's threads on debt (on and off balance sheet) ---

Here is a politically incorrect tax loophole costing billions ---

How would you treat the issue of plagiarism below?

I received this featured message below from one of those wearisome for-profit college promotion sites that tries to hide behind a link to an accounting history essay at

Suppose that we pretend that one of your students (Jaime) submitted this essay to you as part of an assignment in your course.

Without taking the time and trouble to find the original source of this essay using plagiarism detection software, suppose that you performed a simple text stream check on Google --- as I often did when I was still teaching.

Further suppose that one of the text stream hits led to, Luca.pdf 

Firstly, are the essays similar enough to call Jaime to your office to discuss the possibility of plagiarism?

How likely is it that both essays were plagiarized?
Actually, when backing up the Robert Nowlan link it appears that the Robert Nowlan site is likely to be legitimate 

Would you pursue a charge of plagiarism against your student who submitted the essay at

Note that these two essays are not duplicates. But there are terms that lead to suspicion in my devious mind --- terms and phrases like the following:



"came under the influence of the artist Piero della Francesca from whose work he freely"

"Pacioli went to Venice to become a tutor to the sons of a wealthy merchant. In 1471 he arrived in Rome and entered the brotherhood of St. Francis. Pacioli traveled extensively, wandering through Italy and possibly to the Orient and lectured on mathematics at Perugia, Rome, Naples, Pisa, and Venice. He was at the court of Ludovico Sforza, known as the Moor, at Milan with Leonardo da Vinci. It was here, at the most glittering court in Europe, that Pacioli became the first occupant of the chair of mathematics. Pacioli spent the last years of his life in Florence and Venice, returning to the place of his birth to die.."

I think that by now you probably get the picture.

Bob Jensen's threads on Pacioli are at

Bob Jensen



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jaime
Date: Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 3:05 PM
Subject: Broken link on your page
To: Bob

Hi Bob,

I came across your website and wanted to notify you about a broken link on your page in case you weren't aware of it. The link on which links to is no longer working. I've included a link to a useful page on Luca Pacioli, the father of accounting that you could replace the broken link with if you're interested in updating your website. Thanks for providing a great resource!




"Did F. Lee Bailey Have A Fool For A Client?" by Peter J. O'Reilly, Forbes, April 3, 2012 ---

When I was young, if a person knew the name of only one lawyer, that lawyer was probably F. Lee Bailey. I remember once taking a phone call at 1:00 AM from someone wanting to talk to the general manager of the hotel where I was working. When you called the hotel at 1:00 AM the only person you would ever get to talk to was the night auditor, who in a 140 room hotel would also run the front desk and answer the phone on third shift, so that was a ridiculous request. The angry caller informed me that he was going to sue the hotel and he was hiring F LEE BAILEY ! I knew at the time that F. Lee Bailey was famous for being a criminal defense attorney. It was guys like this that needed him.

Probably if that caller ever received a 90 Day Letter from the IRS. He would make an angry phone call in which he would let the responsible agent know that he was going to hire F. LEE BAILEY ! to represent him in Tax Court. That would be mere rhetoric or fancy, though like the counting sheep hiring Mr. Bailey to represent them against Serta mattresses.

Seriously, would anybody actually get F. Lee Bailey to represent him in Tax Court ?  You want a tax litigator to represent you in tax court.  Who would want F. Lee Bailey ?  And why would F. Lee Bailey choose to take on a tax case ? As it turns out, there is one person who not only wanted F. Lee Bailey to represent him, but could actually persuade F. Lee Bailey to take the case.  The client in the case was F. Lee Bailey.

The proverb is that an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.  The import of the proverb is that picking yourself to be your own attorney is a foolish choice.  Now the decision in the case is on the long side and there are a number of complicated issues. It was not a total win for either Mr. Bailey or the IRS. Overall, I am not sure that the proverb was actually proved out in this case.  I don’t know that many tax litigators would have done a lot better with the mess that Mr. Bailey’s difficult client dumped on him.  It may well be that his actual foolishness might not have been so much in acting as his own lawyer as in the attempts he made to act as his own accountant.  The case could actually form the basis of a novel, so I probably won’t do it justice, but here are some highlights.

Where Bailey Won – Kind Of

The big issue in the case concerns Mr. Bailey’s handling of client funds.  It is rather on the convoluted side.  Claude DuBoc had entered into a plea agreement with the United States in a marijuana smuggling case.  His sentence was dependent, in part, in how much property the Government was able to seize from him.  Thus it was in his interest to facilitate seizures, which were complicated by legal, diplomatic and practical difficulties.  In order to address these issues:

the Government entered into a vague and unusual agreement with Mr. Bailey, under which Mr. Bailey would perform services to facilitate Mr. Duboc’s forfeiture of his assets, and Mr. Duboc would transfer 602,000 shares of Biochem Pharma stock to Mr. Bailey, to provide funds that Mr. Bailey could use to maintain and transfer Mr. Duboc’s foreign assets. Thomas Kirwin, an Assistant U.S. Attorney who worked for the Government on the Duboc case (and who later became a U.S. Attorney) testified at trial that the Duboc case was important and complex and that the nature of the work that Mr. Bailey undertook to do was “extraordinary”. Nonetheless, the agreement was completely unwritten.

That brings in my favorite legal proverb – Verbal contracts are not worth the paper they are printed on.  Like “fool for a client”, the verbal contract proverb probably does not hold up in this case.  The verbal contract did prove to be worth something.  The Government had issues with how Mr. Bailey handled the funds, which resulted in two lawsuits and his spending 44 days in jail for contempt.  So the IRS wanted to tax him on the value of the stock at the point that he received it.  Because of the agreement the Tax Court ruled that he received the stock as a trustee and was only taxed when and to the extent that he converted funds to his personal use.  When the Tax Court rules it does not keep score.  It calls the strikes and balls and sends the IRS and the taxpayer back to recompute.  Of the over four million in deficiency, though, that issue seemed to be worth about half.  So I think we can give Mr. Bailey pretty high marks for his first foray into  tax litigation.

On the other hand, he had borrowed against the stock, which the Tax Court did not find to be a taxable event, but when fees from other cases were used to pay down the debt, those fees were taxable income, even though Mr. Bailey never received them.

The Rest Of The Case Is A Mess (Bailey loses here)

Continued in article

"Scottsdale accountant indicted in $66 million ponzi scheme," by Peter Corbett,, April 19. 2012 ---

A federal grand jury in Phoenix has returned a 102-count indictment against a former Scottsdale certified public accountant on charges he operated a $66 million ponzi scheme.

The indictment of Daniel Wise, 55, was announced Thursday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona. He is accused of mail and wire fraud, and money laundering.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who prey on the public for personal financial gain," said Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting U.S. Attorney for Arizona.

Read more:

The indictment alleges Wise fraudulently induced victims to invest $66 million with false promises of high-yield returns by making short-term, high-interest, hard-money loans in real estate ventures. He is accused of using a web of bank accounts and entities from June 2005 to December 2008 to deceive his clients.

The indictment alleges that Wise did not make the investments but instead operated a ponzi scheme by using money obtained from newer victims to pay off older victims.

Read more:

Bob Jensen's threads on Ponzi schemes are at

"Tacoma woman charged with $540K embezzlement," Seattle Times, April 19, 2012 ---

A Tacoma woman has been indicted on charges she stole more than $540,000 from the company she worked for, Food Services of America.

Julie Anne White worked as an accountant at FSA's center in Kent. Federal prosecutors say that from 2007 until last year, she used the company's electronic payment system to pay the mortgage on her home, to transfer money to her own account and to buy a $39,000 boat.

White pleaded not guilty Thursday to five counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors are seeking to seize her home and the boat as proceeds of illegal activity.

R. Allen Stanford ---

"The Stanford Sentence SEC examiners first flagged Stanford way back in the 1990s," The Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2012 ---

Convicted Ponzi schemer R. Allen Stanford was sentenced Thursday to 110 years in federal prison for his $7 billion fraud. Stanford victimized thousands of individual investors to fund a lifestyle of private jets and island vacation homes. Now the question is whether there will be anything left at all for these victims once authorities in jurisdictions around the world finish sifting through the wreckage.

Stanford "stole more than millions. He stole our lives as we knew them," said victim Angela Shaw, according to Reuters. Certificates of deposit issued by a Stanford bank in Antigua promised sky-high returns but succeeded only in destroying the savings of middle-class retirees. More than three years after U.S. law enforcement shut down the Stanford outfit, victims have recovered nothing.

A receiver appointed by a federal court, Ralph Janvey, has collected $220 million from the remains of Stanford's businesses but has already used up close to $60 million in fees for himself and other lawyers, accountants and professionals, plus another $52 million to wind down the Stanford operation.

And then there's the Securities and Exchange Commission, which didn't charge Stanford for years even after its own examiners raised red flags as early as the 1990s. The SEC has lately pursued a bizarre attempt at blame-shifting, trying to get the Securities Investor Protection Corporation to cover investor losses. Even the SEC must know that SIPC doesn't guarantee paper issued by banks in Antigua—or anywhere else for that matter.

SEC enforcers should instead focus on catching the next Allen Stanford. Careful investors should expect that they won't.

Bob Jensen's threads on Ponzi schemes are at

One of the major concerns of the IASB is that some nations at some points in time will simply not enforce the IASB standards that these nations adopted. The biggest problem that the IASB is now having with European Banks is that the IASB feels many of many (actually most) EU banks are not conforming to standards for marking financial instruments to market (fair value). But the IASB thus far has been helpless in appealing to IFRS enforcement in this regard.

European Union officials knew this and let Spain proceed with its own brand of accounting anyway.
"The EU Smiled While Spain’s Banks Cooked the Books," by Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg, June 14, 2012 ---

Only a few years ago, Spain’s banks were seen in some policy-making circles as a model for the rest of the world. This may be hard to fathom now, considering that Spain is seeking $125 billion to bail out its ailing lenders.

But back in 2008 and early 2009, Spanish regulators were riding high after their country’s banks seemed to have dodged the financial crisis with minimal losses. A big reason for their success, the regulators said, was an accounting technique called dynamic provisioning.

By this, they meant that Spain’s banks had set aside rainy- day loan-loss reserves on their books during boom years. The purpose, they said, was to build up a buffer in good times for use in bad times.

This isn’t the way accounting standards usually work. Normally the rules say companies can record losses, or provisions, only when bad loans are specifically identified. Spanish regulators said they were trying to be countercyclical, so that any declines in lending and the broader economy would be less severe.

What’s now obvious is that Spain’s banks weren’t reporting all of their losses when they should have, dynamically or otherwise. One of the catalysts for last weekend’s bailout request was the decision last month by the Bankia (BKIA) group, Spain’s third-largest lender, to restate its 2011 results to show a 3.3 billion-euro ($4.2 billion) loss rather than a 40.9 million-euro profit. Looking back, we probably should have known Spain’s banks would end up this way, and that their reported financial results bore no relation to reality.

Name Calling

Dynamic provisioning is a euphemism for an old balance- sheet trick called cookie-jar accounting. The point of the technique is to understate past profits and shift them into later periods, so that companies can mask volatility and bury future losses. Spain’s banks began using the method in 2000 because their regulator, the Bank of Spain, required them to.

“Dynamic loan loss provisions can help deal with procyclicality in banking,” Bank of Spain’s director of financial stability, Jesus Saurina, wrote in a July 2009 paper published by the World Bank. “Their anticyclical nature enhances the resilience of both individual banks and the banking system as a whole. While there is no guarantee that they will be enough to cope with all the credit losses of a downturn, dynamic provisions have proved useful in Spain during the current financial crisis.”

The danger with the technique is it can make companies look healthy when they are actually quite ill, sometimes for years, until they finally deplete their excess reserves and crash. The practice also clashed with International Financial Reporting Standards, which Spain adopted several years ago along with the rest of Europe. European Union officials knew this and let Spain proceed with its own brand of accounting anyway.

One of the more candid advocates of Spain’s approach was Charlie McCreevy, the EU’s commissioner for financial services from 2004 to 2010, who previously had been Ireland’s finance minister. During an April 2009 meeting of the monitoring board that oversees the International Accounting Standards Board’s trustees, McCreevy said he knew Spain’s banks were violating the board’s rules. This was fine with him, he said.

“They didn’t implement IFRS, and our regulations said from the 1st January 2005 all publicly listed companies had to implement IFRS,” McCreevy said, according to a transcript of the meeting on the monitoring board’s website. “The Spanish regulator did not do that, and he survived this. His banks have survived this crisis better than anybody else to date.”

Ignoring Rules

McCreevy, who at the time was the chief enforcer of EU laws affecting banking and markets, went on: “The rules did not allow the dynamic provisioning that the Spanish banks did, and the Spanish banking regulator insisted that they still have the dynamic provisioning. And they did so, but I strictly speaking should have taken action against them.”

Why didn’t he take action? McCreevy said he was a fan of dynamic provisioning. “Why am I like that? Well, I’m old enough to remember when I was a young student that in my country that I know best, banks weren’t allowed to publish their results in detail,” he said. “Why? Because we felt if everybody saw the reserves, etc., it would create maybe a run on the banks.”

So to sum up this way of thinking: The best system is one that lets banks hide their financial condition from the public. Barring that, it’s perfectly acceptable for banks to violate accounting standards, if that’s what it takes to navigate a crisis. The proof is that Spain’s banks survived the financial meltdown of 2008 better than most others.

Continued in article


Jensen Comment
Thus it is one thing to promote the advantages of international accounting standards and quite another to own up to the major problems of international accounting standards enforcement.

Bob Jensen's threads on cookie jar accounting deceptions ---

Bob Jensen's threads on cookie jar accounting are at
See below

February 19, 2010 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Francine,

The Sandrew article is really terrific (thanks for the heads up) ---

As to the cookie jar question, I think it reduces to an issue of whether the bad quant reserves are used primarily to smooth income in the same sense as cookie jar reserves are traditionally used to smooth income. Or are the bad quant reserves more like bad debt reserves that are used for better matching under the matching concept where timing of cost write offs better matches revenues with expenses incurred to generate those revenues.

To me, the Allowance for Bad Quants seems to me to be a bit more like the Allowance for Bad Debts, but I’ve not really taken time to study this question in detail.

A great example of cookie jar accounting, aside from the classic examples allowed in Switzerland, is Tom Selling’s General Motors example ---
See below

Bob Jensen


"FAS 106: Will the SEC Allow GM to Have the Largest Earnings Cookie Jar in History?" by Tom Selling, The Accounting Onion, March 13, 2008 ---


Bob Jensen's thread on creative accounting are at



How true can you get?
As (Commissioner) Bridgeman left office last year, he praised (Controller) Rita Crundwell for being an asset to the city and said she "
looks after every tax dollar as if it were her own," according to meeting minutes.

As quoted by Caleb Newquest on April 27, 2012 ---

She was mostly just horsing around
"Somehow the City of Dixon, Illinois Just Noticed (after six years) That $30 Million Was Missing," Going Concern, April 19, 2012 ---

Rita Crundwell has been the CFO/comptroller of Dixon, Illinois since the 1980s; a typical tenure for even an unelected Illinois official. In those 30-ish years, it appears that she performed her duties adequately enough, but she was just put on unpaid leave. You see, at some point in 2006, it is alleged that Ms. Crundwell started helping herself to money that belonged to the citizens of Ronald Reagan's boyhood home. Prosecutors allege that this went for the last six years and that Crundwell made off with $30,236,503 (and 51¢). 

Federal agents served warrants and seized contents of her bank accounts, seven trucks and trailers, a $2 million motor home  and a Ford Thunderbird—all of which prosecutors allege were paid for with money taken from city bank accounts by Crundwell. [...] Bank records obtained by the FBI allegedly show Crundwell illegally withdrew $30,236,503 from Dixon accounts since July 2006 , money she used, among other things, to buy a 2009 Liberty Coach Motor home for $2.1 million; a tractor truck for $147,000; a horse trailer for $260,000; and $2.5 million in credit card payments for items that included $340,000 in jewelry.

So a decent haul, but a Ford Thunderbird? Good Christ, spring a bit for the Lincoln Continental at least. Questionable taste in automobiles aside, one can't help but wonder how Dixon - a city with a population of just ~15,000 - could not notice millions of dollars missing. But they did! It's strange because in a city of that size, people gossip about one another's $35 overdraft fees, never mind millions of dollars being spent on multi-million dollar motorhomes. Anyway, Crundwell (who has a thing for horses apparently) had a good thing going, but then made the mistake of taking a little extra vacation: 

[L]ast year she took an additional 12 weeks of unpaid vacation. A city employee substituting for Crundwell examined bank statements and notified the mayor of activity in an account that, according to the complaint, he didn't know existed. Bank records list the primary account holder as the City of Dixon. An entity named RSCDA also is named on the account, with checks written on the account more expansively identifying that second account holder as "R.S.C.D.A., C/O Rita Crundwell."

So basically the city discovere the missing cash by the virtue of dumb luck, which sometimes is what it takes for these things to get uncovered. Better late than, oh whatever... seriously, a Thunderbird?

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates ---

Owning Up to False Accounting in the Academy
"Institute Accused of Falsely Reporting How It Spent State Dept. Funds Settles Lawsuit for $1-Million," by Ian Wilhelm, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 16, 2012 ---

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates are at

Nepotism and Insider Trading in Washington DC

Congress is our only native criminal class.
Mark Twain ---

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
Attributed to Aesop

Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project ---

Under a power purchase agreement (PPA) between SolarReserve and NV Energy, all power generated by the Crescent Dunes project in the next 20 years will be sold to Nevada Power Company for $0.135 per kilowatt-hour.[3] In late September, Tonopah received a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).[

Nepotism in Washington DC

Pacific Corporate Group ---
Financial Report ---

Ron Pelosi ---

"$737 million in green-tech loan to company connected to Pelosi family?"

Tonapa Solar Home ---

The Tonopah Solar company in Harry Reid's Nevada received a $737 million loan from the Department of Energy.

* The project will produce a 110 megawatt power system and employ 45 permanent workers.

* That's only costing us $16 million per job.
One of the investment partners in this endeavor is Pacific Corporate Group (PCG).

* The PCG executive director is Ron Pelosi, who is the brother-in-law of Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi Alleged Insider Trading---

In November 2011, 60 Minutes alleged that Pelosi and several other member of Congress had used information they gleaned from closed sessions to make money on the stock market. The program cited Pelosi's purchases of Visa stock while a bill that would limit credit card fees was in the House. Pelosi denied the allegations and called the report "a right-wing smear.

The Wonk (Professor) Who Slays Washington

Insider trading is an asymmetry of information between a buyer and a seller where one party can exploit relevant information that is withheld from the other party to the trade. It typically refers to a situation where only one party has access to secret information while the other party has access to only information released to the public. Financial markets and real estate markets are usually very efficient in that public information is impounded pricing the instant information is made public. Markets are highly inefficient if traders are allowed to trade on private information, which is why the SEC and Justice Department track corporate insider trades very closely in an attempt to punish those that violate the law. For example, the former wife of a partner in the auditing firm Deloitte & Touche was recently sentenced to 11 months exploiting inside information extracted from him about her husband's clients. He apparently did was not aware she was using this inside information illegally. In another recent case, hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam was sentenced to 11 years for insider trading.

Even more commonly traders who are damaged by insiders typically win enormous lawsuits later on for themselves and their attorneys, including enormous punitive damages. You can read more about insider trading at

Corporate executives like Bill Gates often announce future buying and selling of shares of their companies years in advance to avoid even a hint of scandal about exploiting current insider information that arises in the meantime. More resources of the SEC are spent in tracking possible insider information trades than any other activity of the SEC. Efforts are made to track trades of executive family and friends and whistle blowing is generously rewarded.

Trading on insider information is against U.S. law for every segment of society except for one privileged segment that legally exploits investors for personal gains by trading on insider information. What is that privileged segment of U.S. society legally trades on inside information for personal gains?

Congress is our only native criminal class.
Mark Twain ---

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
Attributed to Aesop

Answer (Please share this with your students):
Over the years I've been a loyal viewer of the top news show on television --- CBS Sixty Minutes
On November 13, 2011 the show entitled "Insider" is the most depressing segment I've ever watched on television ---;contentBody#ixzz1dfeq66Ok
Also see

Jensen Comment



"CONGRESS THE CORRUPT," by Anthony H. Catanach Jr. and J. Edward Ketz, Grumpy Old Accountants, January 9, 2012 ---

The Christmas and New Year’s break allows university faculty not only to enjoy family and friends, but also it supplies a moment to do some nontechnical reading.  After all, we don’t need that much time to look over our teaching notes.  Faculty need something constructive to do during the three or four weeks we have off, and catching up on our reading fits in marvelously.

We read two interesting books during this break.  The first is Throw Them All Out by Peter Schweizer The subtitle tells it all: “How politicians and their friends get rich off insider stock tips, land deals, and cronyism that would send the rest of us to prison.”  For example, the author discusses how Speaker Nancy Pelossi (Democrat) and her husband garnered Visa IPO shares in 2008 after intimating that she would introduce legislation which would prove very costly to Visa.  Of course, Pelosi backed off her threat once she and her husband received those IPO shares.  Schweizer also gives the example of Speaker Dennis Hastert (Republican), who used his knowledge of a proposed interchange for Interstate 88 to buy acreage on the cheap and sell it for its new market value.  Hastert realized millions in profits.

Worse, the ethics rules of the House and the Senate allow these things to occur.  In some twisted logic, Congress permits its members to engage in insider trading and land deals and regulatory intimidation.  It has legalized what is criminal for the rest of us.

We also read China in Ten Words by Yu HuaThe text is part autobiographical, part historical, and part social commentary.  Mr. Hua describes China in ten chapters, each titled with a single word.  The words he chooses are people, leader, reading, writing, Lu Xun, revolution, disparity, grassroots, copycat, and bamboozle.  With these words, he describes the incredible social and economic changes in China during his life-time, starting with the Cultural Revolution from 1966 until late 1970s, which was followed by the economic revolution to the present.

The description records incredible changes in China, such as the nation’s becoming the second largest economic power in the world.  It also traces the failings of this transformation, such as ranking about 100th in the world in per capita income.  The contradiction between these two measures foreshadows social conflict that must be dealt with sooner or later.

What proved serendipitous, even ironic, in this reading is to note the connection between the books.  In certain ways the two countries show similar contradictions and shortcomings.  Yu Hua discusses “today’s large-scale, multifarious corruption” in China; but the U.S. Congress engages in similar dishonesty.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates --- 

"Former top ICE official James Woosley pleads guilty in $600,000 scam," by Jeff Black,, May 1, 2012 ---
Thank you Dennis Huber for the heads up.

James M. Woosley, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) intelligence chief, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to an elaborate scam over several years involving false travel expense reports totaling nearly $600,000.

Woosley must surrender more than $180,000 he made in a scheme that also included several other ICE employees and contractors, federal prosecutors said.

The former federal employees all pleaded guilty to submitting false receipts and vouchers for reimbursement of travel expenses and time worked, according to court documents.

“Today James Woosley became the fifth — and highest-ranking — individual to plead guilty as part of a series of fraud schemes among rogue employees and contractors at ICE,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a statement. “He abused his sensitive position of trust to fleece the government by submitting phony paperwork for and taking kickbacks from subordinates who were also on the take.”

Sentencing was scheduled for July 13. Woosley could serve 18 to 27 months in prison, and faces a potential fine.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

Ernst & Young Takes Another Big (CBS Sixty Minutes) Hit for Putting Client Interests Above Investor Interests
The SEC and the Department of Justice Also Get Hammered for Doing Nothing Against Lehman and E&W

"The case against Lehman Brothers," CBS Sixty Minutes, April 22, 2012 --- Click Here;cbsCarousel

Steve Kroft talks to the bank examiner whose investigation reveals the how and why of the spectacular financial collapse of Lehman Brothers, the bankruptcy that triggered the world financial crisis. Web Extras

The case against Lehman Brothers Kroft: When to give up on accountability Inside the SEC More »

Update: A statement from Ernst and Young: Lehman's bankruptcy occurred in the midst of a global financial crisis triggered by dramatic increases in mortgage defaults, associated losses in mortgage and real estate portfolios, and a severe tightening of liquidity.

We firmly believe that our work met all applicable professional standards, applying the rules that existed at the time. Lehman's demise was caused by the global financial crisis that impacted the entire financial sector, not by accounting or financial reporting issues.

It's hard to overstate the enormity of the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers. It was the largest bankruptcy in history; 26,000 employees lost their jobs; millions of investors lost all or almost all of their money; and it triggered a chain reaction that produced the worst financial crisis and economic downturn in 70 years.

Yet four years later, no one at Lehman has been held responsible. Steve Kroft investigates the collapse of Lehman Brothers: what the SEC did and didn't know about the firm's finances, the role of a top accounting firm, and why no one at Lehman has been called to account.

The following script is from "The Case Against Lehman" which originally aired on April 22, 2012. Steve Kroft is the correspondent. James Jacoby and Michael Karzis, producers.

On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest investment bank in the world, declared bankruptcy -- sparking chaos in the financial markets and nearly bringing down the global economy. It was the largest bankruptcy in history -- larger than General Motors, Washington Mutual, Enron, and Worldcom combined. The federal bankruptcy court appointed Anton Valukas, a prominent Chicago lawyer and former United States attorney to conduct an investigation to determine what happened.

Included in the nine-volume, 2,200-page report was the finding that there was enough evidence for a prosecutor to bring a case against top Lehman officials and one of the nation's top accounting firms for misleading government regulators and investors. That was two years ago and there have been no prosecutions. Anton Valukas has never given an interview about his report until now.

Steve Kroft: This is the largest bankruptcy in the world. What were the effects?

Anton Valukas: The effects were the financial disaster that we are living our way through right now.

Steve Kroft: And who got hurt?

Anton Valukas: Everybody got hurt. The entire economy has suffered from the fall of Lehman Brothers.

Steve Kroft: So the whole world?

Anton Valukas: Yes, the whole world.

When Lehman Brothers collapsed, 26,000 employees lost their jobs and millions of investors lost all or almost all of their money, triggering a chain reaction that produced the worst financial crisis and economic downturn in 70 years. Anton Valukas' job was to provide the bankruptcy court with accurate, reliable information that the judges could use to resolve the claims of creditors picking over Lehman's corpse.

Steve Kroft: Had you ever done anything like this before?

Anton Valukas: I've never done anything like Lehman Brothers. I don't think anybody else has ever done anything like Lehman Brothers.

Steve Kroft: So your job, I mean, in some ways, your job was to assess blame?

Anton Valukas: Our job is to determine what actually happened, put the cards face up on the table, and let everybody see what the facts truly are.

Valukas' team spent a year and a half interviewing hundreds of former employees, and pouring over 34 million documents. They told of how Lehman bought up huge amounts of real estate that it couldn't unload when the market went south -- how it had borrowed $44 for every one it had in the bank to finance the deals -- and how Lehman executives manipulated balance sheets and financial reports when investors began losing confidence and competitors closed in.

Steve Kroft: Did these quarterly reports represent to investors a fair, accurate picture of the company's financial condition?

Anton Valukas: In our opinion, they did not.

Steve Kroft: And isn't that against the law?

Anton Valukas: It certainly, in our opinion, was against civil law if you will. There were colorable claims that this was a fraud, yes.

By colorable claims Valukus means there is sufficient evidence for the Justice Department or the Securities and Exchange Commission to bring charges against top Lehman executives, including CEO Richard Fuld, for overseeing and certifying misleading financial statements, and against Lehman's accountant, Ernst and Young, for failing to challenge Lehman's numbers.

Anton Valukas: They'd fudged the numbers. They would move what turned out to be approximately $50 billion of assets from the United States to the United Kingdom just before they printed their financial statements. And a week or so after the financial statements had been distributed to the public, the $50 billion would reappear here in the United States, back on the books in the United States.

Steve Kroft: And then the next financial statement, they would move it overseas again, and file the report, and then move it back?

Anton Valukas: Right.

Steve Kroft: It sounds like a shell game.

Anton Valukas: It was a shell game. It was a gimmick.

Lehman misused an accounting trick called Repo 105 to temporarily remove the $50 billion from its ledgers to make it look as though it was reducing its dependency on borrowed money and was drawing down its debt. Lehman never told investors or regulators about it.

Steve Kroft: This is really deception to make the company look healthier than it was?

Anton Valukas: Yes.

Steve Kroft: Deliberate?

Anton Valukas: Yes.

Steve Kroft: How are you so sure of that?

Anton Valukas: Because we read the emails in which we observed the people saying that they were doing it. We interviewed the witnesses who wrote those emails, or some of those emails, and asked them why they were doing it, and they told us they were doing it for purposes of affecting the numbers.

Steve Kroft: Do you think that Lehman executives knew that this was wrong?

Anton Valukas: For some of 'em, certainly. There was concerns being expressed by-- at high levels about whether this is appropriate, what happens if the street found out about it. So, you know, there was a concern that there's a real question about whether we can do this, whether this was right or not.

One of those people was Matthew Lee who had been a senior executive at Lehman and the accountant responsible for its global balance sheet. Lee was one of the first to raise objections inside Lehman about the accounting trick known as Repo 105.

Matthew Lee: It sounded like a rat poison, Repo 105, when I first heard it. So I investigated what it was, and I didn't like what I saw.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Lehman executives took an interesting tack when defending themselves from the SEC. Their defense is that the SEC knew in advance about the Repo 105 and Repo 108 transactions and could've prevented those deceptions from happening in the first place. Hence if the SEC sues over these deceptions the SEC will end up bringing a lawsuit against itself.

In any case who cares about an SEC lawsuit. Director Mary Shapiro only throws marshmallows. Only the Department of Justice can throw people in Jail, which is what the Lehman Bankruptcy Examiner (Valukas) really wants in this case. But the DOJ is too busy trying to get itself out of the mess its in for sending terrifying weapons to the Mexican Drug Cartels.

Were the Ernst & Young's auditors negligent or cleverly deceived or complicit in the deception by the Lehman Brothers?

The Examiner's Report is not at all kind to Ernst & Young
Lehman’s use of Repo 105 — hidden from the firm’s board but not its auditors at Ernst & Young — helped the investment bank look less indebted than it really was.

As quoted in
Volumes 1-9 of the Examiner's Report ---


More from the examiner’s report:

Lehman never publicly disclosed its use of Repo 105 transactions, its accounting treatment for these transactions, the considerable escalation of its total Repo 105 usage in late 2007 and into 2008, or the material impact these transactions had on the firm’s publicly reported net leverage ratio. According to former Global Financial Controller Martin Kelly, a careful review of Lehman’s Forms 10‐K and 10‐Q would not reveal Lehman’s use of Repo 105 transactions. Lehman failed to disclose its Repo 105 practice even though Kelly believed “that the only purpose or motive for the transactions was reduction in balance sheet”; felt that “there was no substance to the transactions”; and expressed concerns with Lehman’s Repo 105 program to two consecutive Lehman Chief Financial Officers – Erin Callan and Ian Lowitt – advising them that the lack of economic substance to Repo 105 transactions meant “reputational risk” to Lehman if the firm’s use of the transactions became known to the public. In addition to its material omissions, Lehman affirmatively misrepresented in its financial statements that the firm treated all repo transactions as financing transactions – i.e., not sales – for financial reporting purposes.


"Report Details How Lehman Hid Its Woes as It Collapsed," by Michael de la Merced and Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times, March 11, 2010 ---

Jensen Comment
Former employees of Big Four firms (alumni) have a blog that is generally upbeat and tends not to be critical of their former employers
However, with respect to the impact of the Lehman Bankruptcy Examiners Report, this Big Four Blog is unusually critical of Ernst and Young and predicts a very tough time for E&Y in the aftermath.

The next few days will reveal how the regulators, erstwhile shareholders of Lehman and other stakeholders will move against E&Y. Valukas’ statement that there is sufficient evidence to show that E&Y was negligent is enough to spur a whole host of law suits. E&Y is in a very tough spot now, and while it may escape an imploding collapse like Andersen, the long tail of Lehman is sure to create a strong whiplash with painful monetary, reputational and punitive
"Ernst and Young Found Negligent in Lehman Report, Tough Consequences," The Big Four Blog, March 17, 2010 ---

There’s been so much press on the recently released report on the spectacular failure of Lehman Brothers by Anton Valukas, so we’ll just focus on the key elements which involve Lehman’s auditor Ernst & Young.

Valukas is highly critical of E&Y’s work, claiming that they did not perform the due diligence needed by audit firms, the ultimate watchdog of investors’ interests. He believes there is a case of negligence and professional malpractice against the firm. Though in a very limited sense Lehman perhaps followed standard accounting principles, and this is the basis on which E&Y signed off on their annual and quarterly filings, they wrongly categorized a repo as a sale to knowingly report a lower leverage ratio, they exceeded internal limits on the infamous Repo 105, and they found a loophole in the British system to execute these transactions, and keep them off the public eye.

Lehman was clearly at fault and grossly fraudulent in hiding this from investors, and then obfuscating answers to clear questions from analysts. Is Ernst and Young equally culpable?

E&Y should have been more rigorous in pursuing this issue, knowing that it was material, being misrepresented and highly abused. With full knowledge of its usage, and then signing off on SEC documents is definitely negligent.

E&Y is now being investigated by the FRC in the UK and very likely in due course by the SEC. The Saudi government has already cancelled E&Y’s security license in the kingdom. The law suits are yet to hit the wires, but they are coming. The key is whether a criminal indictment of the firm is likely, recall that this is what brought down Andersen. Dealing with civil suits is only a matter of money, but a criminal charge is going to send clients away in droves. The critical question is whether the industry can withstand the loss of a $20 billion accounting giant, the consequences of a Big Three are quite hard to imagine.

E&Y was recently hit with a $8.5 million fine by the SEC for its involvement with Bally Fitness, and in that settlement E&Y agreed to tighten internal procedures and refrain from audit abuse. So the SEC is unlikely to look favorably on this.

The next few days will reveal how the regulators, erstwhile shareholders of Lehman and other stakeholders will move against E&Y. Valukas’ statement that there is sufficient evidence to show that E&Y was negligent is enough to spur a whole host of law suits.

E&Y is in a very tough spot now, and while it may escape an imploding collapse like Andersen, the long tail of Lehman is sure to create a strong whiplash with painful monetary, reputational and punitive consequences.

Bob Jensen's threads on the Examiner's Report aftermath can be found at
Also see "Repo Sales Gimmicks" at

"Lehman's Demise and Repo 105: No Accounting for Deception," Knowledge@Wharton, March 31, 2010 ---

"Auditors Face Fraud Charge:  New York Set to Allege Ernst & Young Stood By as Lehman Cooked Its Books," by Liz Rappaport and Michel Rapoport, The Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2010 --- 

"Ernst & Young — Cuomo Initiates Settlement Talks With Filing," by Walter Pavlo, Forbes, December 24, 2010 ---

"Ernst & Young dismissed from IndyMac shareholder case," by Amanda Bronstad,, June 8, 2012 ---

Jensen Comments
The courts have been very kind to large auditing firms that allowed clients to grossly underestimate bad debt reserves and failed to detect (or at least report) insider frauds and going concern questions for nearly 2,000 clients that went bankrupt after 2007. This particular IndyMac case judge was also not a bit sympathetic with the SEC's case in general.

Bob Jensen's threads on Ernst & Young are at

"An (Almost) Unnoticed $497 Million Accounting Error," by Jonathon Weil, Bloomberg, May 2, 2012 ---

One telltale sign of a bull market is that investors don't care as much about dodgy corporate accounting practices. A case in point: the public reaction -- or lack thereof -- to a financial restatement disclosed late yesterday afternoon by Williams Cos., the natural-gas producer.

Williams didn't issue a press release about the restatement. As far as I can tell, there have been no news reports about the company's accounting errors, which Williams divulged in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They aren't a small matter, though.

As a result of the restatement, Williams said its shareholder equity fell $497 million, or 28 percent, to $1.3 billion as of Dec. 31. Additionally, the company said it had "identified a material weakness in internal control over financial reporting," which is never a good sign. Net income wasn't affected.

Shares of Williams were trading for $33.65 this afternoon, down 73 cents, after setting a 52-week high yesterday. The stock is up 88 percent since Oct. 4.

Williams, which is audited by Ernst & Young, said the restatement was necessary to correct errors in deferred tax liabilities related to its investment in Williams Partners LP, a publicly traded master limited partnership in which it owns a 68 percent stake. A Williams spokesman, Jeff Pounds, declined to comment when asked why the company didn't issue a press release flagging the restatement.

The answer seems obvious, though: The company didn't want anyone to write about it. Oh well.

Bob Jensen's threads on Ernst & Young are at

"GROUPON’S FEEBLE TAX ASSETS: WE TOLD YOU SO…AGAIN!" by Anthony H. Catanach and J. Edward Ketz, Grumpy Old Accoutants Bllog, June 11, 2012 ---


Bob Jensen's threads on Groupon
Search for "Groupon" at

Teaching Case on Groupon
From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on April 6, 2012

SEC Probes Groupon
by: Shayndi Raice and Jean Eaglesham
Apr 03, 2012
Click here to view the full article on
Click here to view the video on WSJ Video

TOPICS: Cash Flow, Contingent Liabilities, Internal Controls, Reserves, Restatement

SUMMARY: As described by Colin Barr in the related video, "One month after they came out with their fourth quarter numbers, '[Groupon] said--guess what-- "Oh, those were wrong..." The company reissued is report for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2011 because they had not booked a sufficient reserve for customer refunds. In the first quarter of 2012, customer refunds under the company's policy exceeded the amount that management had expected because the company faces higher refund rates when selling Groupons for higher priced goods.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The article is useful in a financial reporting class to cover corrections of errors, restatements, accruals for contingent liabilities, and the difference between earnings and cash flows. The article conveys a sense of the need for confidence in financial reporting in order for investors and others to have confidence in management's abilities. Also mentioned in the article is the firm's auditor, Ernst & Young, stating that this event clearly represents a material weakness in internal control.

1. (Introductory) Based on the information in the article and the related video, what problem is Groupon now having to correct?

2. (Advanced) Access the press release announcing the revised fourth quarter and full year 2011 results, available on the SEC web site at What accounts are affected by the revision? What was the nature of the accounting problem?

3. (Advanced) Why does first quarter 2012 activity result in accounting changes to fourth quarter 2011 results of operations?

4. (Advanced) What accounting standards require reissuing Groupon's financial statements as the company has done under these circumstances? What disclosures must be made in these circumstances? Provide references to authoritative accounting standards for these requirements.

5. (Advanced) As noted in the press release, there was no change to the company's previously reported operating cash flows. Why not?

6. (Introductory) What sense is portrayed in the article and the video about Groupon's operations and the maturity of its leadership in handling a public company? How does this viewpoint stem from the accounting problems that they have faced in the first quarter of operating as a public company?

7. (Advanced) How has the company's stock price reacted to this announcement?

8. (Advanced) (Refer to the related article) What is a material weakness in internal control?

9. (Advanced) (Refer to the related article) Do you think that Groupon's auditor Ernst & Young needed to perform any systems testing to make the statement about internal control that was quoted in the article? Explain your answer.

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

Groupon Forced to Revise Results
by Shayndi Raice and John Letzing
Mar 31, 2012
Page: A1


"SEC Probes Groupon," by: Shayndi Raice and Jean Eaglesham, The Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2012 ---

The Securities and Exchange Commission is examining Groupon Inc.'s GRPN -2.48% revision of its first set of financial results as a public company, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The regulator's probe into the popular online-coupon company is at a preliminary stage and the SEC hasn't yet decided whether to launch a formal investigation into the matter, the person said.

The SEC decision to examine the circumstances surrounding Groupon's surprise revision is the start-up's latest run-in with the regulator. Groupon twice revised its finances before its November IPO. An SEC spokesperson declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Groupon.

Groupon shares plunged Monday, ending the day down nearly 17% at $15.27, far below its $20 IPO price. The selloff came despite damage control efforts by Groupon's top two executives, Chief Executive Andrew Mason and finance chief Jason Child.

The Chicago company also closed ranks around Mr. Child, even as accounting experts and investors criticized his performance. People familiar with the situation said Mr. Child, who joined Groupon from Inc. in December 2010, continues to have the support of Mr. Mason and others at the company.

Groupon said Friday it was revising its results for the fourth quarter after discovering executives had failed to set aside enough money for customer refunds. The company had reported a loss of $37 million for its fourth quarter. The accounting changes reduced the company's revenue for the quarter by $14.3 million and widened its loss by $22.6 million.

The revision came after an unsettling discovery in late February. That's when Groupon's chief accounting officer told Messrs. Mason and Child that many customers had returned their coupons in January, said a person familiar with the matter. Read More

Heard: Disclosure Could Aid Groupon Therapy Deal Journal: Analysts Question Groupon Model After Groupon, Critics Wary of JOBS Act Groupon Forced to Revise Results 3/31/12

What's worse: the four-year-old company didn't have enough money set aside in its reserves to cover those refunds, according to this person.

The duo questioned whether this meant people weren't interested in buying daily deals anymore, according to this person: "It made [the executives] think there's got to be something [they] don't understand. A business just doesn't go sideways and go in another direction overnight." Related Video

Groupon shares slid Monday as several Wall Street analysts questioned the stability of the company's business following a revision of its fourth-quarter results, Dan Gallagher reports on digits. Photo: AP.

Ultimately both men got comfortable after an internal analysis found only certain types of coupons were being returned, this person said.

The moment of crisis illustrates how deep the growing pains are at Groupon as it comes to grips with its status as a newly public Web company. In addition to revising its quarterly results, the company on Friday revealed a "material weakness in its internal controls." Insight from CFO Journal

Investor Outreach Having Big Effect on Say-on-Pay Results Lufthansa Convertibles Monetize JetBlue Stake Multiemployer Pension Plans May Be in Hot Water

According to people familiar with the situation, Groupon expects to address the material weakness by the time it reports its first-quarter earnings on May 14.

Groupon has also hired a second accounting firm, KPMG, in addition to its current accountant Ernst & Young. KPMG's role is to make Groupon compliant with Sarbanes-Oxley, federal regulations around accounting and disclosures of public companies. In addition, Groupon plans to hire more accounting and finance staff, said a person familiar with the matter.

The revision threw open the question of "whether there is any real corporate governance at Groupon whatsoever," wrote professors Anthony Catanach of Villanova University and Ed Ketz of Penn State University on their Grumpy Old Accountants blog.

Others fingered Groupon's fast growth—its revenue was $1.62 billion last year, up from $14.5 million in 2009—as the culprit for its recent mishaps. Groupon previously had to change its accounting twice before its IPO in response to SEC concerns.

"I view this as growing pains," said one Groupon investor who declined to be named. "This is like a high school kid who is a five-foot sophomore and becomes seven feet by the time he's a senior."

At the heart of Groupon's most recent problem is something known as the "Groupon Promise" which allows customers to return one of its coupons. The company has no plans to change its policy, said a person familiar with the matter, since it uses it to compete with rivals like LivingSocial Inc.

But that policy led to a meeting in late February between Mr. Child and his chief accounting officer Joe Del Preto, just a few weeks after Groupon had reported its first earnings report as a public company.

For the month of January, Mr. Del Preto told Mr. Child the number of refunds had exceeded all previous models Groupon had built to predict its customers' behavior, said a person familiar with the matter.

Continued in article

"Groupon: You Must Have Fallen From The Sky," by Francine McKenna, re:TheAuditors, April 7, 2012 ---

Last week was Groupon’s big week, although not in a good way. What happened? Well, the premier source of daily deal dish got knocked down a few more pegs after announcing a revision to 4th quarter earnings and the announcement by management that there was a material weakness in internal controls over financial reporting that was causing their disclosure controls to be ineffective. Groupon went public just a few months ago, last November, and the annual report was the company’s first filing as a public company.

Here’s one of the few journalists who got the details right, Jonathan Weil of Bloomberg, explaining why, in this case, the news was especially bad:

Didn’t Groupon know before its initial public offering that its controls were weak? A company spokesman, Paul Taaffe, declined to comment. Let’s assume for the moment, though, that its executives did know. Even then, they wouldn’t have had to tell investors beforehand.

That’s because there is no requirement to disclose a control weakness in a company’s IPO prospectus. Groupon would have had no obligation to disclose the problem until it filed its first quarterly or annual report as a public company — which is what it did. Sandbagging IPO investors in this manner is perfectly legal, it turns out.

The reason lies with a gaping hole in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which Congress passed in 2002 in response to the accounting scandals at Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. That statute had two main sections related to companies’ internal controls, which are the systems and processes that companies are supposed to have in place to ensure the information they report is accurate. Those provisions apply only to companies that are public already, not ones that have registered for IPOs.

One section, called 302, requires public companies’ top executives to evaluate each quarter whether their disclosure controls and procedures are effective. The other section, known as 404, is better known. It requires public companies in their annual reports to include assessments by management and outside auditors about the effectiveness of their internal controls over financial reporting. Congress left it to the Securities and Exchange Commission to write the rules implementing those provisions.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Groupon reported the weakness in its financial-reporting controls through a Section 302 disclosure, not a Section 404 report. In other words, the problem was serious enough that it amounted to a shortcoming in the company’s overall disclosure controls.

Groupon won’t have to comply with Section 404’s requirements until its second annual report, due next year, under an exemption the SEC passed in 2006 for newly public companies. Likewise, Groupon’s auditor, Ernst & Young LLP, to date has expressed no opinion on the company’s internal controls in its audit reports.

From the moment Groupon announced the revision on March 30, there were two important facts that almost all major media financial journalists got wrong:

1) The announcement of lower revenue and lower income for the fourth quarter was a revision of an earnings release, not a restatement. Groupon never filed a 10Q so there was no SEC filing to restate. Fessing up to the right numbers in the annual report was the first time the company was bound to report those numbers and, at that time, they corrected previously announced earnings for the 4th Quarter.

2) Management made the assessment of the material weakness in internal controls over financial reporting that caused disclosure controls to be ineffective, not auditor Ernst & Young. Ernst & Young deserves no credit for the announcement, nor any blame, just yet, for the fact that the weaknesses had to be finally admitted. There is no transparency regarding the auditor’s agreement or disagreement previously with Groupon, any public documentation of their discussions or any reason to believe Ernst & Young either encouraged or discouraged Groupon to get their act together sooner.

We just don’t know.

Continued in article

"THE “BEAUTY” OF INTERNET COMPANY ACCOUNTING," by Anthony H. Catanach Jr. and J. Edward Ketz, Grumpy Old Accountants Blog, April 9, 2012 ---

And the same can be said for financial reporting as practiced by internet companies given their “new business models” that require “new accounting.”  Internet company financial statements seem to mean different things to different people, not unlike a piece of artwork.  Unfortunately, some of this accounting “artwork” is junk, as we have recently reported in the case of Groupon (First 10K: April Fool’s!).  At times like this beauty rests in the I of the artist.

How can management and directors and auditors see one thing, when the complete opposite reflects reality?  And why do internet IPOs seem particularly vulnerable? Well, we think the problem is with the accounting “standards” (and we use that term loosely) that apply to these companies.  As we stated in an earlier post:

Internet company accounting is suspect given all the unsupported assertions and assumptions that must be made to comply with generally accepted accounting principles…

Think about it.  The internet company balance sheet is generally dominated by intangible assets whose values are based on assumptions that are works of art themselves.  And then there’s revenue recognition in these companies with management making all kinds of assumptions about primary obligors, selling price hierarchies, and virtual sales.  Yes, what makes internet company accounting “special” is that so many of the applicable accounting rules require major assumptions, many of which could be better characterized as “giant leaps of faith.”  Clearly, the accounting rules used for internet companies should not be called “standards,” as their many judgments make any meaningful comparison an impossibility!  Enough pontificating…

Given Groupon’s recent accounting struggles we thought it might be interesting to see if there were any other internet company accounting issues lurking within today’s “hot” internet companies.  So, we looked at the most recent 10K filings of Demand Media, Facebook, Groupon, Linked In, and Zynga, focusing primarily on revenue and expense recognition, “unusual” accounting issues, and of course some of our favorites: intangible assets, cash flows, and non-GAAP financial metrics.  Here is what we found.



Two of the five companies (Demand Media and Facebook) generate a significant amount of their revenue from advertising. The way these companies record revenue appears to be relatively straight-forward.  Generally, ad revenue is recognized either when the ad content is delivered, or for click-based ads, when a user clicks on an ad.  Nothing very interesting or complicated here.

Linked In, on the other hand, has a much more subjective revenue recognition method for its hiring and marketing solutions.  Most of the Company’s contractual arrangements include multiple deliverables, i.e., several products packaged together which Linked In swears can’t be pulled apart to record revenue separately.  Gee, if the Company’s cost accounting system keeps track of product and service costs separately, why can’t revenue be estimated separately? Interesting question, huh?  Anyway, Linked In uses convoluted GAAP criteria to record revenue, the relative selling price method, based on a selling price hierarchy.  In short, management decides what revenue will be based on vendor specific evidence, third party evidence, or management’s best estimate of selling price, in that order of priority.  Which one do you thing management likely favors?

Then, there’s our poster child for bad internet company accounting, Groupon.  As you may recall, the Company was busted by the SEC for improper revenue recognition last September. SeeGroupon Finally Restates Its Numbers.”  Basically, Groupon ignored accounting guidance (that’s a much better word than “standard”) in Emerging Issues Task Force (EITF) 99-19, as well as SEC Staff Accounting Bulletin 101 (question 10), and recorded the gross amounts it received on Groupon sales as revenues. Since being forced to restate its financial statements, the Company now records revenue at the net amount retained from the sale of Groupons (gross collections less an agreed upon percentage of the purchase price due to the featured merchant excluding any applicable taxes), since it is acting as the merchant’s agent in the transaction.

It should be noted that Demand Media also faces the “gross vs. net” revenue issue discussed in EITF 99-19.  For revenue sharing arrangements in which the Company is considered the primary obligor, it reports revenue on a gross basis.  But for those situations where it distributes its content on third-party websites and the customer acts as the primary obligor, it records revenue on a net basis.

And last, but not least, there is Zynga with its consumable or durable virtual goods! For the sale of consumable virtual goods (goods consumed by player game actions), revenue is recognized as the goods are consumed. On the other hand, revenue from the sale of durable virtual goods (goods accessible to a player over an extended period of time) is recognized ratably over the estimated average playing period of paying players for the applicable game.  Confused yet?  Basically, we have to rely on Zynga to provide us with a best estimate of the lives of both consumable and virtual goods to book revenue. As we indicated in “Zynga’s First 10K: Zestful Zephyrs,” by merely changing the game’s rules, the Company can change what it books as revenue! This is all too arbitrary. Are we really surprised?

So, when it comes to recording revenue, it appears that booking advertising income is relatively easy, compared to the management estimates needed for multiple deliverables (Linked In) and virtual good sales (Zynga), or deciding who the “primary obligor” is (Demand Media and Groupon).  We would not be surprised if some internet companies don’t intentionally complicate their product offerings to make revenue recognition a function of management guesstimates!


Cost Capitalization

Given that several of these companies are struggling to achieve or maintain profitability, it is not surprising that they would try to record as an asset what really is an expense.  And sure enough, we find several instances of this.  For example, Demand Media capitalizes many different types of costs including content costs, registration and acquisition costs for undeveloped websites and internally developed software, as well as intangible assets acquired in acquisitions.  How significant is this?  Over 72 percent of the Company’s $590.1 million in total assets are intangible in nature!  Now that takes cost capitalization to a new height…we’d probably try that too if we were losing as much money every year as they are (2011’s net loss was $18.5 million).

Linked In also plays this “game,” but with a new twist.  The Company does do something quite interesting…it defers expensing $13.6 million in commissions already paid on non-cancelable subscription contracts, presumably to match the commission costs with the related revenue streams.  Why stop there?  Couldn’t you make the same argument for a whole host of other expenses as well?  Maybe they did, but Deloitte didn’t buy it.

Groupon and Zynga also have played a slightly different version of the cost capitalization game, by recording tax assets that presumably will lower future tax liabilities.  In recording these tax assets, the companies reduce income tax expense in the income statement, thus improving the bottom line.  The only problem is that a company must have future taxable income in order to use these alleged tax assets!  Well, if the companies did this to mitigate their operating losses, the game has ended for Zynga, and soon will end for Groupon.

In 2011 Zynga recorded a $113.4 million allowance against its deferred tax assets, almost fully reserving these assets, and effectively wiping them off the books.  This suggests that the Company may have had a reality check as to its future prospects, given that it no longer projects a future that includes profitability, more specifically taxable income.

As for Groupon, we highlighted this same tax issue earlier in Groupon’s First 10K: Looking Under the HoodIn 2011, the Company increased its valuation reserve for deferred tax assets by $72.3 million reducing reported deferred tax assets to $65.3 million.  Although Groupon gave no reason for the increased reserve, it likely was forced to record it for the same reason as Zynga, i.e., little likelihood of generating taxable income in the foreseeable future against which deferred tax assets could be used.  So, who would have thought…the income tax note might actually shed some light on what a company really thinks its profit forecast is (as opposed to the press release)!


Other Accounting Issues

Our internet company reviews also turned up a couple of interesting points, which give us insight into managements’ attitude toward financial reporting transparency…and believe it or not, Groupon is NOT involved!

The first involves cash, naturally, and how Demand Media “defines” cash.  You may recall that we first reported on the increasing trend of companies to manipulate reported cash balances in What’s Up With Cash Balances?”  And, yes, Demand Media is overstating its balance sheet cash by including accounts receivable as cash even though it has yet to receive the monies.  Here is what the Company’s accounting policy note says:

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
In the 1990s tech boom, startup companies in particular were not making any profits and had cash shortage problems. These companies tried to shift the focus to revenues and devised all sort of (mostly fraudulent) schemes to record non-cash revenue. The EITF worked overtime trying to plug the dikes against new revenue reporting schemes --- 

Various Teaching Cases Featuring Groupon ---

Search on the word "Groupon"

"Why Is The SEC Pursuing Deloitte Shanghai? Looks Like It’s Personal," by Francine McKenna, re:TheAuditors, May 10, 2012 ---

The Securities and Exchange Commission is rattling a dull sabre again towards Shanghai-based Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd. for its refusal to provide the agency with audit work papers related to Longtop, a China-based company under investigation for potential accounting fraud against U.S. investors. The regulator filed an “enforcement action” instituting an “administrative proceeding” yesterday.

Ooooh scary!

This has been going on now for two years and seems to have escalated into the kind of fight men have when trying to prove who’s bigger and tougher. It looks to me like it’s personal rather than productive. The SEC has access to as much as they need to review the work of the Deloitte China firm’s audit of Longtop  - or any other Chinese fraud for a US listed company - assuming the US Deloitte firm had as much as they needed to sign off on the companies’ filings with the SEC over the years.

The SEC admits in their latest complaint against Deloitte Shanghai that they asked Deloitte US for the information the firm has right here in the US on Longtop and other US listed foreign based audits. The firm’s first answer was to deny any involvement in the audit.

4. On April 9, 2010, staff served Deloitte LLP, the U.S. member firm of the Global Firm with a subpoena requesting audit work papers relating to the Global Firm’s audit of Client A’s financial statements for the period January 1, 2008 through April 9, 2010.

5. Between April 13, 2010 and May 18, 2010, staff had several communications with U.S. based counsels for both Deloitte LLP and the Global Firm.

6. Counsel for Deloitte LLP initially informed the staff that Deloitte LLP did not perform any audit work for Client A, that all audit work was conducted by Respondent, and that Deloitte LLP did not have possession, custody, or control of the documents called for by the subpoena.

7. Counsel for Deloitte LLP subsequently informed the staff that Deloitte LLP performed some review work of Client A’s periodic reports and produced certain documents relating to this review to the staff.

Deloitte did eventually produce some documents related to the audit that are, and always have been, available in the US. If the Deloitte US reviews were sufficient, that should be enough for the SEC to see the quality of work performed by the Deloitte Shanghai unit.

So why is SEC continuing to fight this inane fight when, in reality, they should have all the information they need to investigate the Longtop or any other fraud? I suspect that the SEC attorneys are super annoyed with Deloitte’s lawyers and have decided to use their unlimited budget and intimidating administrative powers to annoy them back. Unfortunately, this just puts more money in the pocket of the super expensive Sidley & Austin outside counsel representing Deloitte Shanghai.

(Coincidentally, it was also a Sidley & Austin lawyer for KPMG that recently so annoyed a judge in a class action overtime case against the firm the judge ordered the firm to preserve the hardrives of all laptops for past, present and future class members. Note to Sidley & Austin:  Scorched earth tactics not working.)

US-based GAAP and SEC reporting experts in the global audit firms review the workpapers behind the filings for every non-US based audit client that is listed on a US stock exchange, all over the world, before any filing with the SEC. That’s one of the quality control procedures all the firms who audit foreign-based, US listed multinationals have in place, not only because it is expected by regulators but because it’s good business.

The SEC/GAAP reporting team or Reg S-X review team – it may be drawn from and called something different in each firm – is the last stop before a foreign-based US issuer can file its quarterly and annual reports, as well as any filings for additional stock or debt offerings, with the SEC. Sometimes the team consists of experts from the firm’s financial advisory consulting group or capital markets group – the professionals who help companies prepare for IPOs, especially foreign companies who want a stock exchange listing in the US. The team may also call on additional expertise from the firm’s national office – a kind of one-stop shop for getting questions answered on arcane technical matters or standards for specific industries. Professionals may play double duty as consultants to some companies and remote members of an audit team for others. That way they can pick up billable hours reviewing filings when there are no deals to be done.

When a US-based listed company is a multinational, the US audit firm will use its member firm network extensively to do the audit work necessary all over the world to support the overall audit opinion. In this case, a US audit firm is expected to closely supervise and control the work of foreign affiliates who contribute to its audit.

From Part 2 of the PCAOB’s inspection report – the private quality control review of US firms.

Review of Processes Related to the Firm’s Use of Audit Work that the Firm’s Foreign Affiliates Perform on the Foreign Operations of the Firm’s U.S. Issuer Audit Clients

The inspection team performed procedures in this area with respect to the processes the Firm uses to ensure that the audit work that its foreign affiliates perform on the foreign operations of U.S. issuers is effective and in accordance with applicable standards performed by the Firm’s foreign affiliates on the foreign operations of U.S. issuer clients.

Some non-US audit member firms have more SEC reporting and GAAP experts on-site than others. I suspect the largest firms in Canada and the UK have their own SEC and GAAP reporting quality assurance review team for this purpose, but many countries do not.

PwC, for example, has the Global Capital Markets Group, a team of professionals dedicated to providing technical, strategic and project management advisory services to non-US companies actively interested in raising capital and/or listing their securities in the US securities markets. GCMG has partners and hundreds of professionals in more than 20 countries around the world.

GCMG assists companies in meeting ongoing SEC reporting requirements (e.g., review the company’s annual filing on Form 20-F and assist the company in responding to any SEC review comments). They are qualified to review management’s evaluation of the accounting treatment under U.S. GAAP and/or IFRS of new, complex or unusual transactions, such as a new type of financial instrument or a business combination. (Henri Steenkamp, a native of South Africa and a PwC alumni, is one of these accounting technical experts who helped companies prepare for IPOs for PwC before he helped Man Financial spin off MF Global and went on to become CFO of that PwC audit client.)

Continued in article

Teaching Case from The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on May 18, 2012

Chinese Audits See New Heat
by: Michael Rapoport
May 10, 2012
Click here to view the full article on

TOPICS: Audit Firms, Audit Quality, Auditing, Big Four, International Auditing, SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission

SUMMARY: By bringing an enforcement action, the SEC is increasing pressure on the Chinese unit of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to submit audit work papers relating to its client Longtop Financial Technologies, Ltd. This company is one of a number of Chinese firms that were traded on U.S. stock exchanges and have become the subjects of SEC investigations into accounting fraud. Deloitte's Chinese unit resigned from the audit engagement but states that it is unable to comply with the SEC's subpoena for work papers under Chinese secrecy laws. The related article specifically quotes a Deloitte representative stating that the "Chinese authorities explicitly told its Shanghai unit in June 2011 that they 'did not consent to the production of the Longtop work papers directly to the SEC.'" If Deloitte does not comply with the SEC's recent action to enforce the subpoena, the firm could be barred from auditing publicly traded firms in the U.S.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The article is useful to integrate global business perspectives on the conduct of the auditing profession.

1. (Introductory) What enforcement action has the SEC taken against the Chinese unit of the global Big Four accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu?

2. (Advanced) What circumstances precipitated this action by the SEC? Refer to the main and related article.

3. (Introductory) What is the firm's explanation for not complying with the SEC subpoena and enforcement action?

4. (Introductory) What could happen to Deloitte's Chinese unit and its staff if the firm does comply with the SEC request?

5. (Advanced) Refer to the related article. How does the auditing firm hope that this matter will be resolved?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


"Chinese Audits See New Heat," by: Michael Rapoport, The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2012 ---

The Securities and Exchange Commission has ratcheted up the pressure in its monthslong dispute with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu's Chinese arm, saying the firm's refusal to turn over documents violates U.S. law.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd., the Shanghai-based Chinese affiliate of the Big Four accounting firm, is violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by refusing to turn over audit work papers requested for a Deloitte client the agency is investigating, the commission said in an administrative proceeding filed Wednesday.

The case marks the first time the commission has brought an enforcement action against a foreign audit firm for failing to comply with a request under Sarbanes-Oxley, which requires foreign firms that audit U.S.-traded companies provide documents to the SEC on request. If the proceeding is decided against the Chinese firm, it could be barred from auditing U.S.-traded companies.

The SEC's move boosts the stakes in its clash with the Deloitte China affiliate that began last September, when Deloitte refused to comply with an SEC subpoena seeking documents relating to its client Longtop Financial Technologies Ltd., a financial-software company whose shares traded in the U.S. until last December.

Deloitte cited concerns that Chinese authorities could penalize the firm or its partners under China's state-secrecy laws. The SEC filed suit in September to enforce the subpoena, and that case remains pending in U.S. District Court in Washington. Longtop couldn't be reached for comment.

Deloitte's international organization said in a statement that its Chinese affiliate "is caught in the middle of conflicting laws of two different governments" and that Chinese law prohibits accounting firms in China from providing documents directly to foreign regulators without government approval, which hasn't been forthcoming. The firm said it "is hopeful that this diplomatic disagreement will be resolved soon."

The SEC's latest action raises the potential penalties for Deloitte's Chinese arm and broadens the dispute, by bringing in a separate request for Deloitte documents relating to a second, unidentified client that is under SEC investigation.

"The SEC is really upping the stakes here. This is a pretty strong action," said Paul Gillis, a professor of practice at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management in Beijing. The commission, he said, "is really playing tough on [Deloitte], and on the other side the Chinese aren't giving them a lot of room to wiggle."

An SEC administrative-law judge will hear the proceeding against the Chinese firm. If the judge decides in the SEC's favor, the sanctions against the Deloitte affiliate could range from censure to denial of "the privilege of appearance and practice before the commission," according to the filing. The affiliate audits more than 40 Chinese companies that are traded on U.S. markets, according to data from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the U.S. government's audit-industry regulator.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on professionalism in auditing ---

Bob Jensen's threads on Deloitte are at

"Not Much Illumination: JP Morgan, MF Global & Man in the Middle, Jamie Dimon," by Francine McKenna, re:TheAuditors, June 15, 2012 ---

The more I write about banks, auditors, legislators, regulators and the big money that passes amongst them, the easier it is to see the connections between them all.

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote a book in 2002 called Everything is Illuminated. According to Wikipedia, the novel tells the story of…

“…a young American Jew who journeys to Ukraine in search of Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather’s life during the Nazi liquidation of Trachimbrod, his family shtetl. Armed with maps, cigarettes and many copies of an old photograph of Augustine and his grandfather, Jonathan begins his adventure with Ukrainian native and soon-to-be good friend, Alexander “Alex” Perchov, who is Foer’s age and very fond of American pop culture, albeit culture that is already out of date in the United States. Alex studied English at his university, and even though his knowledge of the language is not “first-rate”, he becomes the translator. Alex’s “blind” grandfather and his “deranged seeing-eye bitch,” Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr., accompany them on their journey. Throughout the book, the meaning of love is deeply examined.”

It’s widely believed that the title of the book comes from a line in one of my all time favorite novels The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera:

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on bank frauds are at

Baker Cooks the Books
"Former Bakery Accountant Accused Of Stealing More Than $235K," CBS News, May 16, 2012 ---
Thank you Going Concern for the heads up

A former accountant for a Brea-based bakery chain was arrested Wednesday on charges of using company-issued credit cards to steal lots of dough, but not the kind you eat.

Ligia Baciu, 35, was arrested at her Fullerton home by Brea police on multiple charges stemming from the alleged embezzlement which, they say, adds up to $236,000.

Prosecutors allege she used the stolen money to buy an engagement ring, pay for fertility treatments, put a down payment on an Audi, as well as paying for car insurance, groceries and other goods at Costco, Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche said.

Baciu worked in accounting at Sweet Life Enterprises from August 2005 to October 2009, Labreche said. In 2007, the company was acquired by Fresh Start Bakeries Inc., which got its start making hamburger buns for McDonald’s.

Baciu, who was responsible for the company’s credit card accounts, allegedly began stealing from the company in February 2008, Labreche said.

She managed to conceal the theft by ordering bills from the credit card companies that she could manipulate to make it look like the expenses were from various other employees, Labreche alleged.

Baciu was laid off from her job in October 2009, but allegedly kept using the credit cards. Her replacement in accounting uncovered the alleged theft in January 2010, Labreche said.

“We had to get search warrants at a lot of different businesses,” the prosecutor said in explaining the delay in the arrest.

Continued in article

"Western Governors University embezzler is sentenced:   Courts » Check forger bought home with cash; still owes school $288K," by Cimaron Neugebauer, The Salt Lake Tribune, April 27, 2012 ---

A woman who forged checks worth more than half a million dollars while working for Western Governors University — using a majority of the stolen cash to buy a house — was sentenced Friday to probation, community service and eight days in jail.

Shelley Ann Wilkinson, 45, of Belgrade, Mont., was charged last year with one count of theft, a second-degree felony, and three counts of forgery, all third-degree felonies.

Last month, Wilkinson pleaded guilty to two third-degree felony forgery counts and the other charges were dismissed.

On Friday, Wilkinson stood in tears as 3rd District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills ordered the jail time, 200 hours of community service, along with 36 months probation. Wilkinson also must continue paying restitution.

Prosecutor Vincent Meister said that of the roughly $526,700 embezzled by Wilkinson, she used some to buy a $350,000 house in Canada.

"The embezzlement in itself is selfish," Meister said, refuting the defense’s claims that Wilkinson always gave and helped others. "What she stole wasn’t something she needed for subsistence. She bought [another] house and she got caught."

Defense attorney Taylor Hartley said that after a few weeks after buying the home, Wilkinson’s guilt got to her and she tried to sell it. She later turned the deed to the home over to the university and Wilkinson started paying money back, but still owes the school about $288,000.

Meister said the most "aggravating factor" is that she had the money to pay back the school right away.

Continued in article

"Jenkins: Wal-Mart Is Not Alone:  An Australian firm encounters New York's notorious labor graft," by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2012 ---

When in Mexico, don't do as the Mexicans do. That was good advice for Wal-Mart, though it perhaps seemed impractical at the time. Now the company is enveloped in allegations that it paid $24 million in bribes to expedite store openings in our southern neighbor.

Just maybe a little air should leak out of the sanctimony bubble in light of another story this week of corporate innocents blundering around Gomorrah. The Mexican people at the very least are entitled to a twinge of irony.

In 1999, the Australian giant Lend Lease Group bought a New York construction firm, Bovis, and soon was erecting many modern landmarks, including Citi Field (where the Mets play) and the renovated Grand Central. One thing the Australian company didn't do was upend and purify a 70-year tradition of labor graft in the city's building trades.

In a settlement announced on Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department charged that "Bovis intentionally and fraudulently billed clients, from at least 1999 to 2009, for hours that were not worked by labor foremen from Local 79 Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York."

A Bovis executive told a judge: "From at least 1999 to 2009, I agreed with others at Bovis to continue the existing practice for laborers at Local 79."

The company will pay a fine and submit to monitoring. Two executives may face jail terms. But these statements beg an obvious question: What motive would Bovis have for overpaying union workers? Because it was the victim of a labor racket that's been going on in New York for decades and will continue to go on is the obvious answer nowhere alluded to in Justice's lengthy statement.

About one thing Lend Lease and Justice agree: The illicit practices didn't begin when Lend Lease arrived. They were already entrenched during a period when Justice itself was in control of the Mason Tenders union.

Justice took over the Mason Tenders in 1995, installing a court-appointed monitor for an initial period of four years, impelled by the testimony of Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, the Gambino family underboss who turned on boss John Gotti. Gravano testified that the union, representing unskilled workers, was a mob favorite because the goombahs didn't need special skill or training certifications to qualify for no-show jobs.

Under trustee Michael Chertoff, the government did much to clean up the city's most mobbed-up union. It halted the looting of the union's pension and benefit funds by another crime family, the Genoveses, under Vincent "the Chin" Gigante, also known as the "Oddfather" for his habit of walking on Sullivan Street in his bathrobe talking to himself (a stratagem to avoid prosecution by feigning incompetence, many presumed).

What Justice apparently didn't clean up, however, was the practice of extorting no-show payments from builders. In the last year of its trusteeship, the union was raided by the Manhattan district attorney in an attempted crackdown on such scams.

Graft cultures are hardy for a reason. As much as some arms of government may seek diligently to root them out, others are mobilized to protect them. If you have any doubt, just read former Brooklyn D.A. Burton Turkus's account of the Roosevelt administration's bizarre manipulations to stall New York state's execution of labor racketeer and Murder Inc. chief Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, which the late Turkus attributed to Lepke's connection to labor leaders who were connected to FDR. Of recent vintage is the mystery of Arthur Coia, head of the Laborers' International Union and friend of Bill Clinton, whose pending RICO indictment in 1995 was abruptly dropped, even as one of his constituent unions, the Mason Tenders, was seized by the government.

Lend Lease has now been paraded for the press, but prosecutors acknowledge that the practices are widespread and continuing. Companies will continue to pay up. The Mason Tenders will remain an important stop for politicians running in the city and state. For all the fulmination, the illegal payments to several dozen union foremen amounted to $19 million over 10 years—a sum to be weighed against tens of thousands of votes represented by building-trades members and their families.

Ironically, as nonunion builders encroach and compete more successfully in the city, those builders bound by union contracts will be even more pressured to pay union bribes to allow cheaper nonunion workers on site—what this scandal fundamentally was all about.

Continued in artiicle

Bogus Wash Trades to Cheat the Canadian Government
"Regulator Accuses Royal Bank of Canada  of ‘Massive’ Trading Scheme," by Ben Protess, The New York Times, April 2, 2012 ---

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates are at

"Convicted former CFO seeks $60 million from Tyco," by Karen Freifeld, Reuters, May 7, 2012 ---,0,3939041.story

Former Tyco International Chief Financial Officer Mark Swartz, who is serving a prison sentence for looting the company, has sued for $60 million in retirement and other money he says he is owed.

The lawsuit, which was made public on Monday, accuses Tyco of breach of contract and unjust enrichment for not paying him some $48 million from an executive retirement agreement, $9 million in reimbursement for New York taxes, and other money.

"We know of no basis on which Swartz could recover from the company," Tyco spokesman Paul Fitzhenry said in an email, although the company had not yet been served with the complaint.

Swartz was convicted of grand larceny and securities fraud in 2005, along with former Chief Executive Dennis Kozlowski. They are each serving sentences of 8-1/3 to 25 years.

In his lawsuit, filed in New York state Supreme Court, Swartz charges the company knew the Manhattan District Attorney intended to bring criminal charges against him when it approved the main contract at issue in the lawsuit.

"The directors and management of Tyco approved the subject agreement with actual knowledge that he was shortly to be indicted," the lawsuit said.

Tyco has a separate suit against Swartz pending in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. That case, to fix the amount Swartz must pay Tyco, is scheduled for trial in September, Fitzhenry said.

Tyco also brought a similar suit in federal court against Kozlowski. In that case, the judge dismissed Kozlowski's counterclaims for pay and benefits after 1995. The remaining issues are scheduled for trial in August, Fitzhenry said.

Swartz was chief financial officer of the industrial conglomerate from 1995 through 2002. He was indicted in September 2002 and convicted in June 2005. Besides the prison sentence, he paid $72 million in court-ordered restitution and fines.

Since September, Swartz has been assigned to Lincoln Correctional Facility in New York city, a minimum-security facility where Kozlowski also is based, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Swartz is on a furlough schedule where he can leave on Wednesdays and return on Monday. He is scheduled to appear before the Parole Board in September 2013.

Kozlowski, whose purchase of a $6,000 shower curtain made him a symbol of corporate greed, was denied parole in April.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on Tyco are at
Search for Tyco at the above site.
Unlike many companies that failed after their top executives went to prison, Tyco was and remained financially very sound because of successful acquisitions engineered by the top executives that went to prison for criminal activities along the way, including stealing from the company.

"Accounting firm settles $285M claim over LeNature's loan," Bloomberg News, April 6, 2012 ---

BDO Seidman LLP, the accounting firm, settled investor claims over a $285 million loan that was made to LeNature's Inc. before the drink maker went bankrupt in 2006, according to a court filing.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the Monday filing in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

BDO Seidman, based in New York, prepared LeNature's financial statements, and Wachovia Capital Markets arranged the loan. Normandy Hill Master Fund LP, which bought some of the debt on the secondary market, sued Wachovia, BDO Seidman and others in June 2010.

"It has been resolved, and the parties are pleased to put it behind them," Aaron Mitchell, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said on Thursday.

Timothy Hoeffner, an attorney representing BDO Seidman, could not be reached for comment on the settlement.

Wachovia Capital Markets, now a part of Wells Fargo & Co., said in court documents filed in February that it settled claims against it in the lawsuit, without disclosing terms.

LeNature's, based in Latrobe, made bottled water, tea and other flavored drinks. Gregory J. Podlucky, the company's founder, and others were indicted in September 2009 on charges that they duped creditors out of more than $800 million by overstating company revenue. Podlucky pleaded guilty in May 2011 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in October.

Continued in article

"Ex-BDO Seidman Partner Favato Gets 18 Months for Tax Crimes," by David Voreacos, Bloomberg Business Week, April 16, 2012 --- 


Bob Jensen's threads on BDO Seidman  are at


"ObamaCare's Secret History:  How a Pfizer CEO and Big Pharma colluded with the White House at the public's expense," The Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2012 ---

On Friday House Republicans released more documents that expose the collusion between the health-care industry and the White House that produced ObamaCare, and what a story of crony capitalism it is. If the trove of emails proves anything, it's that the Tea Party isn't angry enough.

Over the last year, the Energy and Commerce Committee has taken Nancy Pelosi's advice to see what's in the Affordable Care Act and how it passed. The White House refused to cooperate beyond printing out old press releases, but a dozen trade groups turned over thousands of emails and other files. A particular focus is the drug lobby, President Obama's most loyal corporate ally in 2009 and 2010.

The business refrain in those days was that if you're not at the table, you're on the menu. But it turns out Big Pharma was also serving as head chef, maître d'hotel and dishwasher. Though some parts of the story have been reported before, the emails make clear that ObamaCare might never have passed without the drug companies. Thank you, Pfizer. ***

The joint venture was forged in secret in spring 2009 amid an uneasy mix of menace and opportunism. The drug makers worried that health-care reform would revert to the liberal default of price controls and drug re-importation that Mr. Obama campaigned on, but they also understood that a new entitlement could be a windfall as taxpayers bought more of their products. The White House wanted industry financial help and knew that determined business opposition could tank the bill.

Initially, the Obamateers and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus asked for $100 billion, 90% of it from mandatory "rebates" through the Medicare prescription drug benefit like those that are imposed in Medicaid. The drug makers wheedled them down to $80 billion by offsetting cost-sharing for seniors on Medicare, in an explicit quid pro quo for protection against such rebates and re-importation. As Pfizer's then-CEO Jeff Kindler put it, "our key deal points . . . are, to some extent, as important as the total dollars." Mr. Kindler played a more influential role than we understood before, as the emails show.

Thus began a close if sometimes dysfunctional relationship with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, as led by Billy Tauzin, the Louisiana Democrat turned Republican turned lobbyist. As a White House staffer put it in May 2009, "Rahm's calling Nancy-Ann and knows Billy is going to talk to Nancy-Ann tonight. Rahm will make it clear that PhRMA needs a direct line of communication, separate and apart from any coalition." Nancy-Ann is Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House health reform director, and Rahm is, of course, Rahm.

Terms were reached in June. Mr. Kindler's chief of staff wrote a memo to her industry colleagues explaining that "Jeff would object to me telling you that his communication skills and breadth of knowledge on the issues was very helpful in keeping the meeting productive." Soon the White House leaked the details to show that reform was making health-care progress, and lead PhRMA negotiator Bryant Hall wrote on June 12 that Mr. Obama "knows personally about our deal and is pushing no agenda."

But Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman then announced that he was pocketing PhRMA's concessions and demanding more, including re-importation. We wrote about the double-cross in a July 16, 2009 editorial called "Big Pharma Gets Played," noting that Mr. Tauzin's "corporate clients and their shareholders may soon pay for his attempt to get cozy with ObamaCare."

Mr. Hall forwarded the piece to Ms. DeParle with the subject line, "This sucks." The duo commiserated about how unreasonable House Democrats are, unlike Mr. Baucus and the Senators. The full exchange is among the excerpts from the emails printed nearby.

Then New York Times reporter Duff Wilson wrote to a PhRMA spokesman, "Tony, you see the WSJ editorial, 'Big Pharma Gets Played"? I'm doing a story along that line for Monday." The drug dealers had a problem.

The White House rode to the rescue. In September Mr. Hall informed Mr. Kindler that deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina "is working on some very explicit language on importation to kill it in health care reform. This has to stay quiet."

PhRMA more than repaid the favor, with a $150 million advertising campaign coordinated with the White House political shop. As one of Mr. Hall's deputies put it earlier in the minutes of a meeting when the deal was being negotiated, "The WH-designated folks . . . would like us to start to define what 'consensus health care reform' means, and what it might include. . . . They definitely want us in the game and on the same side."

In particular, the drug lobby would spend $70 million on two 501(c)(4) front groups called Healthy Economy Now and Americans for Stable Quality Care. In July, Mr. Hall wrote that "Rahm asked for Harry and Louise ads thru third party. We've already contacted the agent."

Mr. Messina—known as "the fixer" in the West Wing—asked on December 15, 2009, "Can we get immediate robo calls in Nebraska urging nelson to vote for cloture?" Ben Nelson was the last Democratic holdout toward the Senate's 60-vote threshold, and, as Mr. Messina wrote, "We are at 59, we have to have him." They got him.

At least PhRMA deserves backhanded credit for the competence of its political operatives—unlike, say, the American Medical Association. A thread running through the emails is a hapless AMA lobbyist importuning Ms. DeParle and Mr. Messina for face-to-face meetings to discuss reforming the Medicare physician payment formula. The AMA supported ObamaCare in return for this "doc fix," which it never got.

"We are running out of time," this lobbyist, Richard Deem, writes in October 2009. How can he "tell my colleagues at AMA headquarters to proceed with $2m TV buy" without a permanent fix? The question answers itself: It was only $2 million. ***

Mr. Waxman recently put out a rebuttal memo dismissing these email revelations as routine, "exactly what Presidents have always done to enact major legislation." Which is precisely the point—the normality is the scandal. In 2003 PhRMA took a similar road trip with the Bush Republicans to create the Medicare drug benefit. That effort included building public support by heavily funding a shell outfit called Citizens for a Better Medicare.

Of course Democrats claim to be above this kind of merger of private profits and political power, as Mr. Obama did as a candidate. "The pharmaceutical industry wrote into the prescription drug plan that Medicare could not negotiate with drug companies," he said in 2008. "And you know what? The chairman of the committee who pushed the law through"—that would be Mr. Tauzin— "went to work for the pharmaceutical industry making $2 million a year."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging ---



  • Accounting and finance professors should use this video every semester in class!
    The best explanation ever of the sub-prime (meaning lending to borrowers with much less than prime credit ratings) mortgage greed and fraud.
    The best explanation ever about securitized financial instruments and worldwide banding frauds using such instruments.
    The best explanation ever about how greedy employees will cheat on their employers and their customers.

    "House Of Cards: The Mortgage Mess Steve Kroft Reports How The Mortgage Meltdown Is Shaking Markets Worldwide," Sixty Minutes Television on CBS, January 27, 2008 ---
    For a few days the video may be available free.
    The transcript will probably be available for a longer period of time.

    Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at

    Other Links
    Main Document on the accounting, finance, and business scandals --- 

    Bob Jensen's Enron Quiz ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on professionalism and independence are at  file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/dbowling/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/OLK36/FraudUpdates.htm#Professionalism 

    Bob Jensen's threads on pro forma frauds are at 

    Bob Jensen's threads on ethics and accounting education are at

    The Saga of Auditor Professionalism and Independence ---

    Incompetent and Corrupt Audits are Routine ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at 

    Future of Auditing --- 




    The Consumer Fraud Portion of this Document Was Moved to 





    Bob Jensen's home page is at