Tag Archive for ‘Securities and Exchange Commission’
What possesses an audit partner to trade on inside information and violate the accounting profession’s most sacred ethical standard of audit independence? Is it carelessness, greed, or ethical blindness? In the case of Scott London, the former partner in charge of the KPMG’s Southern California’s regional audit practice, it was a bit of each that motivated him to violate ethical standards.
The continuing debate in Washington, D.C. over corporate campaign disclosure will pit the major political parties against a number of groups advocating greater disclosure. But a more far-reaching — and far less predictable — debate will occur between corporate executives and some of their large investors.
As investors increasingly grapple with how to assess “sustainable” business practices and their impact on corporate performance, a new non-profit organization has launched to develop sustainability accounting standards for use by publicly listed U.S. companies in their disclosure statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A leading plaintiffs’ lawyer says the widespread acceptance of hedge funds – which now receive hundreds of billions of dollars from pension plans representing average workers – has not been matched by commensurate improvements in their level of transparency, accountability and corporate governance. As a result, he argues, “it’s time for hedge funds to be brought into the 21st century,” with broad changes in the legal regime that governs them.
An executive at Goldman Sachs has left the firm with a bang, penning a New York Times op-ed accusing the company of increasingly putting profits ahead of clients. Greg Smith started as an intern 12 years ago and last headed a derivatives department. Not surprisingly, Goldman quickly and strongly disagreed with his take.
Years after the financial crisis, there have still been no prosecutions of top executives at the major players in the financial crisis. Why’s that? Well, according to a now-departed Justice Department official who used to be in charge of investigating such matters, the Justice Department has decided that holding top Wall Street executives criminally accountable is too difficult a task.
A new report by Bloomberg News suggests that in July 2008, then-Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson met with “a dozen or so hedge-fund managers and other Wall Street executives” to discuss a possible scenario for placing mortgage enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into “conservatorship.” Pulitzer Prize-winner Jesse Eisinger says Paulson’s meeting with his former Wall Street peers draws “a picture of a Treasury Secretary who took care of his buddies while allowing the system to blow up.”
A federal judge in Manhattan rejected a proposed settlement between Citigroup and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over a failed security that the bank sold to investors. “If the allegations of the Complaint are true, this is a very good deal for Citigroup,” said U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff as he refused to sign off on the $285 million proposed settlement agreement.
The economic crisis, increased rules and regulations, and heightened scrutiny of boards’ roles have “corporate directors feeling pressure to be more effective in the boardroom,” according to an annual survey of directors of large companies by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Key concerns include executive compensation, risk management, strategy, succession planning, information technology security and fraud.
Advisory shareowner votes on executive compensation were the big story of proxy season 2011, the inaugural year for “say on pay” at most U.S. public companies. In the first half of the year, shareholders voted against proposals at some 37 companies. The Council of Institutional Investors, a leading advocate for say on pay, offers its analysis of the “no” votes and what they might say about current executive compensation practices.