SEC’S ATKINS TO STEP DOWNWashington, D.C. — Securities and Exchange Commissioner Paul Atkins said that he plans to leave the SEC at the end of his term, the latest in a string of departures for the commission.

Atkins has been in office for six years and has emphasized investor education and increased enforcement efforts. He was instrumental in the creation of the SEC’s Microcap Fraud Working Group and advocated repeal of Auditing Standard No. 2, which has since been replaced by Auditing Standard No. 5.

He is the third commissioner to resign from the SEC in the past year, following the departures of Roel Campos and Annette Nazareth. The SEC is currently operating with only three of five commissioners.

At press time, Troy Paredes, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, was expected to be nominated as Atkins’ replacement. President Bush has nominated replacements for Campos and Nazareth, Luis Aguilar and Elisse Walter, but the Senate Banking Committee has not yet held hearings to confirm them.


Jewelry retailer Zale Corp. has engaged Big Four firm Ernst & Young as its independent public accountant for the fiscal year ending July 31. E&Y replaces KPMG.

In a filing, the Irving, Texas-based concern said that the decision to change accountants was approved by its audit committee and eliminated any potential conflicts of interest. A question arose as to whether KPMG’s independence would be impacted by the service of Richard C. Breeden and James Cotter as members of Zale’s board. Breeden serves as the court-appointed monitor to KPMG as part of a consent decree from the firm’s tax shelter scandal of several years ago. Cotter is a member of Breeden’s monitoring team.


Providence Service Corp., a Tucson, Ariz.-based provider of government-sponsored social services, has engaged Big Four firm KPMG as its auditor. According to an SEC filing, during the company’s past two recent fiscal years and the subsequent interim period through April 22, the company consulted with its auditor regarding the application of accounting principles covering the company’s purchase price accounting, and convertible senior subordinated notes it issued stemming from its December acquisition of Charter LCI Corp., a holding company of health-care transportation provider LogistiCare Inc.


PFSweb Inc., a provider of outsourcing services including Web hosting and internet application development, dismissed its auditor, KPMG, and named Grant Thornton as its new independent accountant. In a filing, the Plano, Texas-based company said that the change in auditors did not stem from any disagreements over accounting practices or principles.

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