audit failure

Disciplinary actions by California Board of Accountancy in first half of 2019.

That view is enough to make you cringe. Sort of like some of the situations recently addressed by the Board of Accountancy. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Update newsletter issue 89 for Fall 2019 has 33 disciplinary actions listed. Timeframe of the effective dates is the first half of 2019.  My recap of actions by the California Board of Accountancy is listed below. I counted as one action those situations involving a firm and the owner of the firm.


audit fail other issue
1 3 felony
1 1 didn’t complete contracted service
1 audit fail
1 audit fail and no peer review
1 no peer review & expired license
2 probation violations
1 some deeper issues, not quite apparent from summary
4 8 total revocations


Of the CPAs with felony issues, two were for embezzlement, one also had an audit failure, and another ended up with conviction on 12 counts.

Two of the revocations were for rather extensive violations of a previous disciplinary action.

Revocations stayed

SEC practice ban for three accountants tangled up in KPMG/PCAOB fiasco.

Securities and Exchange Commission Building, Washington, DC.

Going Concern is doing a great job keeping us all updated on the status of the current felons / former KPMG and PCAOB staff tangled up in the inspection list theft fiasco.

Several tidbits from Jason Bramwell on 1/16/20 I just noticed:  SEC Takes Away Privileges From Another Felon In KPMG/PCAOB Scandal.

Staff who have been banned by the SEC from practicing before the Commission:

Last person in KPMG inspection leak fiasco enters guilty plea

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The last person to face justice in KPMG’s fiasco of gaining illegal access to PCAOB inspection lists entered a guilty plea a few weeks before his scheduled trial.

David Britt entered a guilty plea on 10/3/19 to one count conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His trial would have otherwise started on 10/21/19.

Sentencing is scheduled for 5/8/20.

Second sentencing in KPMG fiasco of getting list of PCAOB inspection list.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The most senior level former partner charged in the KPMG “steal the exam” fiasco was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for his role in the leak of PCAOB inspection targets. David Middendorf received a fraction of the 37-46 months requested by US Attorney office and 46-57 months recommended by the United States Probation Office.

Some articles to provide lots more info:

Wall Street Journal – Jean Eaglesham – 9-11-19 – Ex-KPMG Partner Sentenced to a Year and a Day in ‘Steal the Exam’ Scandal

Crain’s New York Business – Aaron Elstein – 9/11/19 – Former top KPMG partner gets a year and a day in prison – Article points out the sentence of a year plus one day means Mr. Middendorf is eligible for good behavior credit.

More details on first sentencing in KPMG/PCAOB fiasco as second sentencing is expected today.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The second sentencing in the fiasco of leaking PCAOB’s inspection list to KPMG is set for 10:30 today, 9/11/19.

Background on Mr. Middendorf sentencing

David Middendorf will face federal judge J. Paul Oetken to learn how long he will be in federal housing. Judge Oetken is handling all of the trials in this case.

On 7/26/19 Mr. Middendorf submitted his arguments on sentencing (docket #379). If you have lots of time on your hand, you can also read the 25 attachments.

The US Attorney filing had this comment (#394), which I’ll quote:

Comments from recent continuing education classes worth repeating: peer review

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Here are some fun or interesting or useful tidbits from the October 2018 A&A and the June 2019 Not-for-profit conferences presented by California Society of CPAs.

Previous post had comments on accounting and auditing.

Peer review

One speaker said there are several common issues for weaknesses in risk assessment:

  • Limited assessment
  • No linkage (relating the assessment of risks to further audit procedures)
  • Poor use of third-party practice tools
  • No assessment of IT risks

Not doing any risk assessment is now a major problem for you in a peer review if you missed the boat on the risk suite of standards.

For Yellow Book audit, the workpapers must document SKE (skills, knowledge, experience) of staff overseeing non-attest services.  Although the professional standards do not exactly require documentation of SKE for non-attest service on a non-yellow book audit, the speaker said (if I heard correctly) that the California Peer Review Committee has a considered opinion that such documentation is required.

So, if you have non-attest services on a non-yellow book audit, …

Two articles provide more info on SEC sanctions against KPMG for ‘stealing the exam’ and CPE course cheating fiascos.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For more discussion on the dual fiascos of the now-former-senior KPMG partners getting the PCAOB inspection list and altering workpapers along with cheating on continuing education classes, check out these two articles:


Francine McKenna at MarketWatch on 6/18/19 The KPMG cheating scanal was much more widespread that originally thought.

Article provides a good summary of the settlement.

Try this on for a word picture, which I’m expanding from Francine’s description in the article:

Getting a $50M fine from stealing the inspection list (and then altering workpapers) is the powerful right punch that everyone was expecting. The test cheating part is a staggering left hook that nobody saw coming.

Disciplinary actions from California Board of Accountancy through the end of 2018.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Update #88 newsletter from California Board of Accountancy for Winter 2019 lists 22 disciplinary actions, by my count. These are the actions taken with effective dates through the end of 2018.

Here is a tally of license revocations, surrendered licenses, and revocations with stay categorized by the underlying issue as I aggregate them:

KPMG agrees to $50 million fine from SEC. The details are really bad.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Oh, remember that post about the SEC considering a $50M fine against KPMG?  Initial report suggested it was for gaining access to the list of engagements which were going to be inspected by PCAOB.

It is much worse.

The firm is fined for altering workpapers based on the inspection list. In addition, there was a lot of cheating on the tests for CPE courses, including a class required by the SEC.

The SEC says KPMG has agreed to settle and pay $50M.

If you want to read the gory details for yourself, you can do so:

This is for real. Seriously.

By the time you finish reading this post or other reports on the SEC’s action, you may be wondering whether there needs to be an assertion the source of information for this post was neither The Onion nor Babylon Bee.

Reports of setting your own passing score for an ethics test could make you wonder if it is very early April. “Cooperate and graduate” exchanges of test answers with the engagement partner and your audit team makes one wonder whether we have entered some sort of alternate reality.

You may want to glance at the linked documents and verify for yourself they are for real.

I assure you the above documents are from the website.

SEC action

In part II of the administrative action/cease & desist order, KPMG admits the facts described in part III.

Here are some highlights of part III.

First cause of action

The first cause of action by the SEC is the firm obtained the list of engagements which were going to be inspected by PCAOB and then altered workpapers which had not yet hit the lock-down date.

CPA sanctioned by California Attorney General over audit of charity

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The California AG negotiated a settlement with a charity for their alleged overvaluation of medical GIK. I say alleged because the charity, three present or former board members, the charity’s insurance company, and the external auditor all deny in the settlement they did anything wrong.

The alleged scheme, according to the AG, was the charity used two other charities, which it formed, to buy medicine in the Netherlands and then donate it back to the ‘parent’, which then recognized GIK at US prices.

The AG asserts that over the course of 25 or more transactions, the purchase of about $225,000 of medicine by the two controlled charities generated gift-in-kind revenue of about $34,900,000 in the sanctioned charity.

Of note for readers of this blog is that the CPA providing an external audit was sanctioned as part of the negotiated settlement. She audited the charity and signed its 990s. She also audited one of the controlled charities and signed their 990s.

More disciplinary actions from California Board of Accountancy

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Update #87 newsletter from California Board of Accountancy for Summer/Fall 2018 lists 38 disciplinary actions, by my count.

You can read my previous posts on CBA actions by clicking on this tag.

Here is my tally of license revocations, surrendered licenses, and revocations with stay (there are no suspensions or stayed suspensions this time around):

Summary of disciplinary actions from California Board of Accountancy, Winter 2018

What you will be doing if you ignore professional standards and then get caught messing up your audits and reviews, although the amount won’t be quite as large. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The new Update newsletter from the California Board of Accountancy goes back to providing details on disciplinary actions. The Winter 2018 edition (#86) takes 20 pages to describe the 24 actions. The previous Update provided far less detail, which generated lots of feedback to the board, so the newsletter will again give the ugly details for the causes for discipline.

Update 11/30/18:  Thanks to CBA for listing the messy details on what CPAs are doing to earn their consequences.

Three things jump out at me from the current list of discipline.

First, every action comes with a substantial financial penalty in the form of reimbursing the CBA for their investigative costs.

Second, just about every CPA that got in trouble for audit or review problems was given a ban from performing attestation work until some time in the future when the firm requests and receives permission from CBA to again perform such work.

Third, several CPAs received a suspension from their CPA practice. This means the individual may not perform any actions which would otherwise require a license. I think that means the firm halts all their attestation work and unless also holding an enrolled agent credential ceases their tax compliance work.

Here is my summary of the causes of discipline for the license surrenders and the stayed revocations: