Comments: Ernst & Young called to account -- should Audit firms be investigated for their role in the crisis?

as been referred to many times, the person that had tried for a decade to get SEC to do something about Madoff, testified in congressional hearings that tips turn up 13 times more fraud than audits.

also has been mentioned several times in the past, congress passed Sarbanes-Oxley in the wake of Enron ... in theory requiring stricter audit requirements. However, possibly because GAO didn't believe it had any affect, GAO started doing reports of public company financial filings ... showing uptick in fraudulent filings even after SOX; so SOX (audits)

* have no effect on fraudulent filings
* encouraged the uptick in fraudulent filings
* if it hadn't been for SOX, all filings would be fraudulent

There were comments that motivation was fraudulent filings enabled significant boost in executive compensation and even if filings were later corrected, the executive compensation wasn't reclaimed.

SOX also had provision that SEC look at the rating agencies ... who played pivotal roles in the financial crisis. One of the comments during the fall2008 congressional hearings into the role played by rating agencies, there was comment that the rating agencies could blackmail the federal gov. into taking no punitive action with the threat of credit rating downgrade.

There are recent news items that the rumors about new wikileaks (giving substantial information about US financial institutions activity leading up to the crisis), has federal agencies "apprehensive", since it could also expose the lack of agency diligence.

Posted by Lynn Wheeler at December 23, 2010 08:44 AM

not this is anyway new, Lehman, Ernst & Young references from last spring

Lehman autopsy throws Ernst & Young into spotlight

from above:

Ernst & Young came under fresh public scrutiny after a report on the Lehman Bros. collapse alleged that the accounting firm's audit failed to challenge transactions that essentially hid $50 billion of the investment bank's assets.

... snip ...

a few others

Lehman, Ernst & Young and accounting
Will Ernst & Young Survive The Lehman Fiasco?
Ernst & Young faces legal action over Lehman collapse
Lehman Fraudulently Cooked Its Books, Accounting Giant Ernst & Young Helped, Geithner and Bernanke Winked and Slapped Them on the Back

and from Dec2008:

Corporate Fraud and Misconduct Risks Driven by Pressure to do 'Whatever It Takes'; Fewer episodes reported by companies with ethics and compliance programs

from above:

Of more than 5,000 U.S. workers polled this summer, 74 percent said they had personally observed misconduct within their organizations during the prior 12 months, unchanged from the level reported by KPMG survey respondents in 2005. Roughly half (46 percent) of respondents reported that what they observed "could cause a significant loss of public trust if discovered," a figure that rises to 60 percent among employees working in the banking and finance industry.

... snip ...

With overall industry avg. of 46% ("could cause a significant loss of public trust if discovered") and the financial industry specific avg. of 60%, which should place the non-financial industry avg. below 40%. That would make the financial industry avg. somewhere between 50% and 100% worse than other industries.

Posted by Lynn Wheeler at December 23, 2010 03:08 PM
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