Regulators Cite Deloitte & Touche
Friday, October 7, 2005
Four clients of accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP restated their financial results after inspectors found problems with the firm's work, regulators said yesterday.
The inspections stem from broader scrutiny of the industry by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, created by Congress in 2002 to provide independent review of accounting firms after audit failures at Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc.
Board staff members reviewed 125 Deloitte & Touche audits from May to November 2004 and pointed out deficiencies in eight of them in a report released yesterday. Many of the board's criticisms are confidential because of legal requirements imposed by Congress. If companies repair weaknesses within one year, the board is prevented from publicly disclosing those problems. Overseers did not identify the four Deloitte & Touche clients that restated their finances.
Deloitte & Touche said in a prepared statement that it has moved to resolve some of the problems the board found. But in a few cases, the firm said it "respectfully disagreed" with the board's judgments about its business practices.
Among the deficiencies cited by inspectors was the firm's devoting fewer than two days to review a client's accounting changes related to three complex deals. Deloitte & Touche also failed to signal to investors that another client was likely to fall short of certain loan agreements that would have a bearing on its ability to continue to do business as a "going concern," regulators said.
Last week, the board posted its quality control review of KPMG LLP, which is rebuilding its management after avoiding criminal prosecution for helping wealthy individuals evade income taxes. Reports on the remaining members of the industry's Big Four -- Ernst & Young LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP -- are expected to be released in the next few weeks.
Releasing the reports is one of the last official acts of board Chairman William J. McDonough, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. McDonough has said he will leave the board by Nov. 30. The Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to name a replacement.
Separately, advisers to the accounting board met in Washington this week to discuss their priorities for the coming year. The board said it would examine standards for uncovering fraud involving transactions between related parties, an issue that has cropped up at the Columbia-based U.S. Foodservice unit of Dutch supermarket chain Royal Ahold NV.