SEC SETTLES WITH UNREGISTERED AUDITORS

Washington, D.C. -- The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued settled administrative orders against eight auditors who improperly issued audit reports on the statements of public companies while the audit firms were not registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

The audit firms named were Carl S. Sanko CPA; Frederick A. Kaden & Co.; Halt, Buzas & Powell Ltd.; and Story & Co. PC. The audit partners named were Frederick Kaden, Wayne Powell, Steven Halt and Brian Story. The SEC had instituted proceedings against the auditors back in September for alleged violations of Section 102(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Without admitting or denying the findings of the orders, each of the audit firms consented to the entry of an order finding that it did not possess the requisite qualifications to represent others and violated Section 102(a), and barring it from appearing or practicing before the SEC as an accountant for one year.

In addition, Halt, Buzas & Powell Ltd. consented to the issuance of an order that it cease and desist from committing or causing violations of Section 102(a), and requiring it to disgorge audit fees that it received for the audit work.

Without admitting or denying the findings, each of the audit partners also consented to the entry of an order finding that he did not possess the requisite qualifications to represent others and censuring him under Rule 102(e). In addition, each of the partners must notify the SEC staff in writing that he is associated with a registered accounting firm prior to practicing before the SEC as an independent accountant in the future.

TWIN CITIES FACE ACCOUNTANT SHORTAGE

Minneapolis -- The Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul will continue to face a competitive job market for finance and accounting professionals this year, according to a new study. Nearly 40 percent of the senior-level finance and accounting professionals interviewed in a study by recruitment company SALO and researcher Satisfaction Management Systems said that they anticipate a shortage of qualified workers in 2008. Nine out of 10 said that the shortage will be driven by an insufficient supply of candidates with the required skills.

To attract top candidates, nearly half of the respondents are using compensation and benefits, and another 20 percent are looking at ways to create a corporate culture that delivers real quality-of-life benefits in order to retain current staff.

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