Legal issues

Class Action Securities Lawsuits: Winners and Losers

A wave of stock option backdating litigation against public companies who issued the options and the executives who benefited by exercising them, recently began hitting the American judicial system.
Tax

SEC Takes Emergency Action to Stop Ongoing Fraud Against Seniors

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an emergency enforcement action to halt an ongoing fraudulent offering of stock in a company called One Wall Street, Inc., in which five defendants have obtained and misappropriated more than $1.6 million from at least 64 investors, most of them senior citizens.Advertisement

Dirty Secrets of Bankruptcy Lawyers

The field of bankruptcy law has exploded in recent years, even though the process of filing for bankruptcy really only involves filling out a few forms.
Tax

Mellon Bank & IRS Settle for 2001 Crime

Mellon Bank has agreed to reimburse the federal government $30,000 as a result of an April 2001 incident at the Pittsburgh Internal Revenue Service (IRS) processing unit at the bank’s Client Service Center when the unit’s employees destroyed federal tax returns, according to MarketWatch.
Technology

Celebrity Gift Bags: "Thanks, But No Thanks"

Celebrities who receive over-the-top thank you gifts may start thinking twice before throwing them into the limo and taking them home.The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has its eye on the loot. Celebs will be required to pay taxes on the gift bags they receive at award shows.
A&A

New Texas Margin Tax -- Business or Income Tax

Candidates for governor in Texas last week reacted to the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) conclusion that the new Texas margin tax was an income tax under Financial Accounting Standards (FAS) 109 “because the tax is based on some measure of income.” FASB declined to set up a project to give advice on the matter.Kathy Walt, spokeswoman for Republican Governor Rick Perry, and former state Comptroller Democrat John Sharp, who headed the commission that recommended the tax, said that FASB was providing instructions for accounting purposes only, according to the Houston Chro
Tax

Prosecutors: Former Media Baron Lying about Finances

Indicted newspaper publisher Conrad Black enjoys a “free flow of millions of dollars," from his wife's private company, say federal prosecutors, who want Barbara Amiel-Black to reveal her finances under oath.Advertisement
Tax

Judge Targets Improper Government Pressure in KPMG Case

KPMG created tax shelters that were later declared illegal, but Judge Lewis Kaplan has ruled that the government used improper coercion in seeking KPMG cooperation. The New York Times reports that the statements made by two KPMG partners will not be used at their trials.KPMG vice-chairman Richard Smith and former partner Mark Watson were financially pressured to waive their Fifth Amendment rights and speak with federal prosecutors as well. When they spoke with prosecutors without these rights, they were exposing themselves to legal risk, according to the Assocated Press.
Tax

Auditors Limited In Responding to Criminal Acts

Auditors sometimes find evidence of criminal or questionable acts in the course of their work.
A&A

Retailers Say Visa and MasterCard Violate Antitrust Laws

Antitrust attorney W. Stephen Cannon, representing the Merchants Payments Coalition, a group of about 20 retail trade associations, in written testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week accused Visa and MasterCard of violating federal antitrust laws through their practice of setting the interchange rates charged by banks to complete consumer transactions. The interchange fee, now close to 1.74 percent, is charged every time a consumer uses a credit or debit card to pay for a purchase.
Tax

Tax Practitioners Question Planned Methods to Curb Malpractice

A wide-ranging Internal Revenue Service (IRS) proposal to strengthen malpractice enforcement has sparked objections from tax practitioners and attorneys.The agency would publicly list the names of tax attorneys and accountants who are under investigation for alleged violations of IRS professional practice rules, according to Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. Current rules say the names are kept private until the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility formally investigates and assesses a penalty.
Tax

Indianapolis Accounting Staffer Embezzled $350,000, City Claims

A former employee of the Indianapolis Parks Department is facing charges that she directed $350,000 in public money to her personal bank accounts.The accounting staffer, who was fired after allegedly admitting her crime to investigators, steered fake credit and debt card refunds to her own accounts, according to charging papers. Questionable transactions went back to 2000. The employee, Kenya Miles, faces charges of official misconduct, theft and fraud against a financial institution.
Community News

Stuart Maue Completes Nation’s Largest Legal Audit

Stuart Maue, the nation’s oldest and premier legal auditing firm, has completed work as the legal auditor and testifying expert in the largest attorneys’ fee dispute litigation in the history of the United States. The litigation involved Purdue Pharma L.P.’s $400 million claim for attorney fees and expenses resulting from defense of its prescription pain killer, OxyContin. Purdue Pharma had asked its insurer, Steadfast Insurance Co., a unit of Zurich Insurance Co. of Switzerland, to reimburse it for all costs associated with its defense of the litigation.
Tax

Undisclosed Marriage Causes Problems For Couple

Carolyn Branan and Ralph Lovejoy were married, but they didn’t tell their clients. After their separate companies were found guilty of selling abusive tax shelters, along with KPMG, by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), this former power couple is finding life difficult, being named in about a dozen lawsuits initiated by former clients, according to the Charlotte Observer. Although not indicted by the IRS directly, the couple became key players in the tax shelter market in their own respective firms.
Tax

Judge Approves $36M Settlement Balance in PNC Scandal

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has approved the last part of a settlement involving more than 73,000 shareholders who lost money in a PNC Financial Services Group Inc. accounting scandal.The shareholders are ready to receive about $2,600 each, for a total of $36.6 million, based on the $193 million settlement and interest. That amounts to 68 cents per share, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. It's not clear when settlement money will be distributed, and the final amount will be reduced by attorneys' fees.The last remaining portion of the class-action lawsuit was approved by U.S.

SEC Will Issue Options-Timing Rule; Tells PCAOB to Delay Stock Options Alert

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has asked the Public Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to delay issuing an alert to accounting firms related to backdating stock options, the Wall Street Journal reported late last week. The SEC wants to complete its work on its own proposed rule regarding executive compensation. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox has said that he expects their rule, which should be completed later in the summer, to address backdating issues.An SEC spokesman said that it makes sense for the SEC and PCAOB “to go out with it at the same time” . . .

Accounting Plays Role in Music Industry Trials

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Ellen Carroll on Friday ordered bankruptcy trustees to take control of Death Row Records. Marion “Suge” Knight filed for bankruptcy after being ordered to pay more than $100 million to former business associate Lydia Harris who successfully sued Knight in 2002, claiming that she and her husband, Michael, provided start-up funds to Death Row.“It seems apparent there is no one at the helm,” Carroll told a Los Angeles hearing on Friday in explaining her decision, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Tax

IRS Issues Statement Regarding Telephone Tax and Nonfilers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the following statement regarding the issues raised by the recently amended complaint, Sloan et al v. United States of America, filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.“The IRS wants to make it as easy as possible for all telephone customers to get a refund of the long-distance excise taxes they paid. This includes low-income people who are often not required to file federal income tax returns.

Raytheon Accounting Woes Run Deep,Wide

Raytheon Co.’s recently announced settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of that agency’s probe into alleged accounting irregularities is just the tip of the iceberg of accounting problems for the defense contracting giant based in Waltham, Mass.Raytheon has announced that the SEC has agreed to close the probe into accounting and disclosure practices related to its Raytheon Aircraft Company commuter aircraft business between 1997 and 2001.

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