September 28, 2012

STOP PRESS! An Auditor has been brought to task for a failed bank!

In what is stunning news - because we never believed it would happen - it transpires that, as reported by The Economist:

In 2002 the Sarbanes-Oxley act limited what kind of non-audit services an American accounting firm can offer to an audit client. But contrary to what many people believe, it did not forbid all of them. In its last full proxy statement before being bought by JPMorgan, Bear Stearns reported paying Deloitte in 2006 not only $20.8m for audit, but $6.3m for other services. The perception that auditors and clients are hand-in-glove, fair or not, is a reason why shareholders of Bear Stearns sued Deloitte along with the defunct bank. (JPMorgan and Deloitte settled in June. Deloitte paid out $20m, denying any wrongdoing.)

So, when anybody ever asks "did any auditor get taken to task over a failed bank?" the answer is YES. In the global financial crisis, Mark 1, which cost the world a trillion or two, we can now authoritively state that Deloitte paid out $20m and denied any wrongdoing.

In related news, the same article reports:

IT IS hardly news that the “Big Four” accounting firms get bigger nearly every year. But where they are growing says a lot about how they will look like in a decade, and the prospects worry some regulators and lawmakers. On September 19th Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu was the first to report revenues for its 2012 fiscal year, crowing of 8.6% growth, to $31.3 billion. Ernst & Young, PwC and KPMG will soon report their revenues (as private firms the Big Four choose not to report profits).

OK, does anyone know what the margin on audit & consulting is typically thought to be?

Posted by iang at September 28, 2012 07:53 AM | TrackBack

No idea in the aggregate but I know at the small external auditing firm (around 40 employee's) I used to work where the books were openly shared it was around 30% and would have been significantly higher if the owner wasn't militantly against teleworking.

Posted by: Peter at September 28, 2012 12:35 PM

On June the 30th 2009 oil mysteriously jumped by more than $1.50 a barrel during the night, to reach its highest price in eight months, the kind of swing that is caused by a major geopolitical event.

The amazing, true cause of this price spike has now been released by a Financial Services Authority investigation (FSA).

Although not authorised to invest company cash in trades [SP], a long standing, senior broker at PVM Oil Futures, had managed to spend $520 million on oil futures contracts throughout the night.

On the morning of the 30th an admin clerk called Mr [P] to ask why he had bought 7 million barrels of crude during the night. Mr [P] had no recollection of the transactions, and it turned out that he had made the trades during a “drunken blackout.”

By the time PVM had realised the transactions had not been authorised by a client, they had incurred losses of $9,763,252.

Between the hours of 1.22am and 3.41am, Mr [P] gradually bought 69 percent of the global market, whilst driving prices up from $71.40 to $73.05, by bidding higher each time.

At 6.30am, presumably sobering up and realising what he’d done, he sent a message to his managing director claiming an unwell relative meant he would not be able to make it into work.

Following an official investigation Mr [P] admitted to having a drink problem, had his trading license revoked for five years, and was given a fine of £72,000.

The FSA have said that they will re-approve his license after the five year period, if he has recovered from his drink problem, although they warned that “Mr [P] poses an extreme risk to the market when drunk.”

By. James Burgess of

Posted by: Broker Sent Oil Prices to Eight Month High in a Drunken Stupor at September 29, 2012 09:14 AM


CFTC required significant positions to play because speculators result in wild irrational price swings. Then 19 secret letters were issued allowing specific speculators to play ... accounting for various things ... including the wild spike of oil way over $100 the summer of 2008 (and fall back below).

then Senator releasing data showing speculators causing the wild irrational price swings (aka they promote volatility
making money on the swing up as well as the swing back down) and is heavily criticized in several corners

Sen. Bernie Sanders Leaks Oil Trading Data: Americans Have A Right To Know Who Drove Up Gas Prices
Bernie Sanders Demands Action From Obama On Wall Street Oil 'Gambling'
FIA "shocked and outraged after Senator leaks oil trading data"

Posted by: Lynn Wheeler at September 29, 2012 10:21 AM

CFTC is now allowing speculators to drive extreme volitility and wild price swings in commodities ... ala Grfitopia book and other news items.

Drop back a little, Born, head of CFTC, suggests that it needs to regulate CDS (as insurance instruments, there may be a couple trillion at risk ... however as gambling bets, there is now over $700T in CDS ... hundreds more than any at risk insurance).

So drop back a little more, person is competing with Guerstner to be next head of AMEX ... and looses out, then leaves with his protoge Jamie Dimon. They go to Baltimore and take over a loan business, then over a few years make several acquisitions eventually culminating in Citibank ... which is in violation of Glass-Steagall. Greenspan gives Citi an exemption while the new CEO lobbies washington for repeal of Glass-Steagall (Sec. of treasury who happens to be former chairman of Goldman-Sachs, head of senate banking committee and others). Head of senate banking committee gets repeal included in GLBA. After GLBA passes, sec. of treasury resigns and joins Citi becoming co-chariman.

Various people oppose regulating CDS including Enron. Born is replaced as head of CFTC by wife of the head of senate banking committee, while her husband gets legislation included that prohits CFTC from regulating CDS. When that passes, his wife (head of CFTC) resigns and joins Enron board and head of the audit committee.

Enron and Worldcom explode and congress passes Sarbanes-Oxley supposedly to prevent Enron/Worldcom from happening again; however it requires SEC to do something. Apparently GAO doesn't believe SEC is doing anything and does reports of public company fraudulent financial filings ... even showing uptic after passage of SOX (question, does sox have 1) no effect on fraudulent filings, 2) encourages fraudulent filings, 3) if it wasn't for SOX there would have been even larger increase in fraudulent filings). . . .

supposedly under SOX, all the executives and auditors would be doing jail time.

Lack of CDS regulation by CFTC goes on to play major role in triple-A rated toxic CDOs, AIG, etc.

recent post with news items about husband&wife involvement in CFTC, Enron, CDS, Glass-Steagall, etc

Posted by: Lynn Wheeler at September 29, 2012 11:34 AM

Hi Ian,

Just for the sake of it, I asked a number of my contacts in that world about that.

The definition of margin in that world is not a simple one.

Most partners in these organizations have a limited liability entity (B.V or Ltd or similar) which captures the revenue of their business. And that entity pays out a salary.

Even if I wanted it, I couldn't explain all constructions people sketched me, simply because I rarely understood what they were talk about

But what I gather between the lines it looks like a figure between 50%-75% at least. But that complete depends whether you talk net or gross, with pension contributions or what you have.

It's murky and they are overpaid. I think I become a socialist (No Dutch are not by default socialist or commies).

btw: if you want to publish the content of this mail, please do so without my name.

Posted by: reluctant dutch socialist... at September 29, 2012 11:43 PM
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