In a matter of fact, understated manner, the SEC document makes clear that its enforcement regime has not succeeded in getting private equity fund managers to stop or at least considerably reduce their abuses. Recall that in 2014, then enforcement chief Andrew Bowden gave a peculiarly titled speech, Spreading Sunshine in Private Equity. The SEC has just started its initial examinations of private equity firms. Bowden said that the SEC had found serious abuses in more than half of the firms examines, including what in other circles would be called embezzlement. Bowden also said if anything the misconduct was more prevalent at the biggest firms, which was the reverse of what it found in other areas it regulated, where the crooked operators were normally boiler-room level.
This promising start quickly fizzled out. Yes, the SEC did engage in a series of enforcements actions, targeting common abuses like charging “termination of monitoring fees” which had never been contemplated in the fund agreements, and hauling up big name firms like Apollo, KKR, and Blackstone. However, this amounted to enforcement theater. The SEC acted as if “one and done,” citing particular firms for an isolated abuse, when all the big players were certain to have engaged in many others, and then acting as if everyone would shape up, was either craven or willfully blind. Bowden immediately turned to giving speeches on how private equity firms were obviously upstanding and wanted to do right. He then gave a speech at Stanford at a private equity conference where went on far too long about how he wanted his son to work in private equity and an audience member immediately said he wanted to hire him. Bowden left the agency in three weeks.
This SEC letter, by contrast, makes clear that the agency has ample evidence in its files of continued abuses by private equity fund managers. It does not mention a particularly egregious general strategy: of admitting in the annual disclosure documents, the Form ADV, that the private equity fund managers are violating their contracts with investors. Admitting a contractual violation does not cure it, but the private equity barons appear to believe they can create their own alternative reality. And until Gensler showed up, that belief looked to be correct.
Author(s): Yves Smith
Publication Date: 10 Feb 2022
Publication Site: naked capitalism
The January report by former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt lays bare deep divisions within the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which oversees the audits of companies valued in total at trillions of dollars.
It also alleges organizational dysfunction. There were no records documenting the rationale for several staff firings, and confusion about the roles of the PCAOB’s board members has “created some dysfunctional behavior” by them, the report found.
Current SEC Chairman Gary Gensler this month ousted William Duhnke as PCAOB chairman and is replacing the rest of the five-member board.
A PCAOB spokeswoman didn’t return a request for comment. An SEC spokesman declined to comment. Mr. Duhnke said he hasn’t seen the report and cannot comment on it.
Author(s): Jean Eaglesham, Dave Michaels
Publication Date: 28 June 2021
Publication Site: WSJ
Unlike FASB, the SEC has no control over GASB. But the Commission is obligated “to protect investors in the municipal markets from fraud, including misleading disclosures [emphasis added].” Taken together, the SEC’s own statements make a strong case that it is obligated to prevent fraud in state and local governments’ financial reports, which are confusing and obfuscate the truth.
The state and local governments’ annual financial reports are based on shoddy accounting practices. If confusing and misleading disclosures are considered fraud, then annual reports produce fraudulent disclosures.
It is confusing and misleading that the GASB requires state and local governments to keep two sets of books. Annual financial reports include governmental fund statements that are prepared using an accounting basis called the “modified accrual basis,” which in essence uses short-sighted cash accounting, while the consolidated financial statements are prepared using accrual accounting standards similar to those used by corporations.
Author(s): Sheila Weinberg
Publication Date: 20 May 2021
Publication Site: Truth in Accounting
In testimony prepared for the House Financial Services Committee, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler says brokerages that “gamify” trading — by using appealing visual graphics to reward a user’s decision to trade, for instance — may encourage frequent trading that results in worse outcomes for investors. Some Democratic lawmakers have blamed gamification for the boom in individual trading that helped drive the rise in GameStop shares.
Mr. Gensler, who will appear before lawmakers on Thursday, also said the SEC would study regulatory changes in response to the March blowup of Archegos Capital Management, an unregulated family-investment vehicle of hedge-fund veteran Bill Hwang whose leverage-fueled bets led to more than $10 billion in losses at major global banks.
Author(s): Dave Michaels, Alexander Osipovich
Publication Date: 5 May 2021
Publication Site: Wall Street Journal