Consumer advocate Ralph Nader has written an article for his Web site chastising the CPA profession for standing by while Wall Street firms "used the latest tricks to cook the books."
The perennial presidential candidate criticized Big Four auditing firms in particular for allowing "corporate casino capitalists" to manipulate earnings and he excoriated the Financial Accounting Standards Board for passing recent changes in mark-to-market and fair value accounting rules that will allow banks to boost reported earnings even further.
"Where were the giant accounting firms, the CPAs, and the rest of the accounting profession while the Wall Street towers of fraud, deception and cover-ups were fracturing our economy, looting and draining trillions of dollars of other peoples' money?" wrote Nader.
He also accuses Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission of helping enable accountants to loosen the rules and avoid shareholder lawsuits.
Nader singles out a few accounting standard-setters who have resisted changes to mark-to-market accounting rules, including two former SEC chairmen, Arthur Levitt and Richard Breeden, but he also ends by praising an advocate for reforming mark-to-market rules, former SEC chief accountant Lynn Turner. "Overpricing depressed assets may make bank bosses happy, but not investors or a former SEC chairman," said Nader.
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