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Bramwell's Lunch Beat: Dewey & LeBoeuf Fraud Trial Winds Down

Aug 28th 2015
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lunch beat

Dewey & LeBoeuf's ex-chairman wants fraud charges dismissed
Elkan Abramowitz, a defense lawyer for the former chairman of the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, urged a judge to toss out financial fraud charges against his client, saying prosecutors did nothing more than offer “scant and ambiguous” evidence that amounts to “rank speculation,” wrote Sara Randazzo of the Wall Street Journal. The request, made in a court filing on Thursday, comes after three months of a trial in which prosecutors have sought to convince jurors that the former chairman, Steven Davis, and two other former leaders oversaw a plot to manipulate Dewey's books to keep the firm afloat before its 2012 collapse. Testimony from about 40 witnesses has ranged from colorful anecdotes on internal firm disputes to dissections of complex accounting documents. Defense lawyers for the other two former executives on trial – ex-CFO Joel Sanders and ex-Executive Director Stephen DiCarmine – are also asking the judge to dismiss the case. All three have denied wrongdoing.

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Trump: ‘I'm the king of the tax code'
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump, the 2016 GOP White House front-runner, said on Friday that he is more familiar with the US tax code than anyone else, wrote Jesse Byrnes of The Hill. “Nobody knows the tax code better than I do,” Trump said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. “I'm the king of the tax code.” The real-estate tycoon reiterated Friday that “hedge fund guys have to pay up” to get to their share of the tax burden. Trump said he would roll out his own tax ideas over the next month and that they will include simplifications to put H&R Block “out of business” and getting rid of some deductions.

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Colorado measure seeks marijuana tax-funded college scholarships
Sal Pace, a commissioner for Pueblo County, Colorado, is proposing a ballot measure for a program to fund college scholarships through a marijuana excise tax, wrote Jesse Paul of the Denver Post. Pace said he hopes the measure will “give Pueblo kids a boost” and help fight college debt. The county commission is set to vote Monday on whether to place the proposal on November ballots. The tax would be levied when marijuana is transferred from cultivation to a store, according to Pace's office.

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Tax-dodger hunt neutralizes Swiss bank secrecy, US says
Swiss banking secrecy is no longer viable as the US Justice Department closes in on agreements with most of the institutions that may have helped Americans evade taxes, according to the top American diplomat in Switzerland, wrote Andy Hoffman and Hugo Miller of Bloomberg. Negotiations with about one-third of Swiss lenders, known as Category 2 banks, to finalize their nonprosecution agreements are “almost done” and should be completed by the end of this year, Suzi LeVine, US ambassador to Switzerland, said on Wednesday. Thirty-one banks had struck deals by Aug. 20 with most paying fines, leaving another 50 to 60 in talks, according to estimates by lawyers. “The program has worked,” said LeVine, a former Microsoft Corp. executive. “By and large, bank secrecy is not a value proposition within the Swiss banking industry.”

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GASB publishes new authoritative implementation guide
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) on Thursday published a document that details comprehensive authoritative implementation guidance cleared by the board for state and local governments. Implementation Guide No. 2015-1 incorporates changes resulting from feedback received during the yearlong public exposure of previously issued implementation guidance, which was done in conjunction with the due process leading up to the issuance of GASB Statement No. 76, The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for State and Local Governments. Going forward, all new GASB implementation guidance, due to its elevated authoritative status, will be exposed for a period of broad public comment prior to issuance, as is done for other GASB pronouncements. The requirements of Implementation Guide 2015-1 are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2015.

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AICPA releases Q&A on required supplementary information
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has issued Question and Answer (Q&A) Section 9180.01 (AICPA Technical Questions and Answers). It provides nonauthoritative guidance to auditors when required supplementary information (RSI) accompanies financial statements subject to an audit, and such RSI extends to historical prior periods (back periods) in which the auditor did not perform an engagement that required independence. The guidance states that the auditor is not required, for purposes of complying with AU-C Section 730, Required Supplementary Information (AICPA, Professional Standards), to be independent of the entity in back periods as long as the auditor's opinion does not cover RSI.

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