BRITISH ACCOUNTANTS URGE SEC TO ADOPT IFRS

London - The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has written to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission urging it to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards.

In its comments on the SEC's proposed roadmap to IFRS from U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, the ICAEW, which claims to be Europe's largest accountancy body, said that it believes the whole world could benefit if the U.S. adopts IFRS. The ICAEW added that the SEC should decide quickly on IFRS transition deadlines to limit the uncertainty for U.S. companies.

"The close scrutiny of accounting for financial instruments during the financial crisis has made the need for comparable financial reporting even more obvious," said Dr. Nigel Sleigh-Johnson, head of the ICAEW's Financial Reporting Faculty. "We believe strongly that the transition by U.S. companies to IFRS would not only benefit U.S. companies, but the whole world, as it will improve transparency and comparability globally."

In its submission to the SEC on the IFRS roadmap, the ICAEW highlighted the importance of technical independence and robust due process in the setting of accounting standards. The institute recommended some critical success factors for U.S. adoption of IFRS, such as early educational programs for users and preparers of financial reports, as well as well-understood transition deadlines.

DOJ CRACKS DOWN ON TAX-EVADING MERCHANTS

Denver - The Justice Department has filed a "John Doe" summons with a federal court seeking the credit card records of U.S. merchants hiding money in offshore bank accounts.

The DOJ recently asked a Denver federal court to approve the summons on one of the nation's largest payment card processors, First Data Corp.

The Internal Revenue Service claims that First Data actively marketed and sold the offshore services to U.S. merchants and their financial advisors to help them hide the proceeds of both brick-and-mortar and Internet sales in offshore bank accounts.

"John Doe" summonses allow the IRS to obtain information about U.S. taxpayers whose identities are not yet known. The information expected in response to the summons will be used by the IRS to identify merchants who use offshore accounts to evade their U.S. tax liabilities.

The petition alleges that the merchants have opened bank accounts in offshore jurisdictions and directed their payment card processor, in this instance First Data, to deposit the proceeds from their debit or credit card transactions directly into the offshore accounts.

TRANSPARENCY ELUSIVE ON TARP FUNDING

New York - More than half of the business professionals polled during a recent Deloitte webcast said that the level of transparency that the Obama administration promises to attach to bailout spending is not possible.

Deloitte found that 58.2 percent of the 1,540 business professionals who tuned in to the webcast had doubts about how much transparency there can be.

About 80 percent of the poll respondents indicated that the emphasis on transparency and accountability in government spending will translate into wider regulations for all businesses. And 40.5 percent said that - regardless of whether their companies will benefit from stimulus funding - the government emphasis on transparency and ethics would lead them to address their companies' anti-fraud programs and controls.

In addition, 79.8 percent of respondents admitted that they were unfamiliar with the False Claims Act, one of the government's primary civil fraud enforcement mechanisms. The law helps individual whistleblowers call attention to companies that attempt to defraud the government and receive a finders' fee if the government collects a fine.

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