Justice won't pursue Andersen

The U.S. Justice Department announced that it will not retry its case against Arthur Andersen. In a federal court filing in New Orleans, prosecutors said that it was not in the best "interests of justice," to pursue the failed firm on obstruction of justice charges for shredding documents related to the collapse of Enron Corp.

In June, the Supreme Court overturned the original conviction of the firm, saying that the trial judge should have given the jury instructions strictly defining what prosecutors had to prove in order for Arthur Andersen to be found guilty.

While Andersen will avoid a criminal conviction, the firm is already a shell of itself, with just a few hundred employees working out of its Chicago office.

IRS warns of tax refund scam

The Internal Revenue Service has issued a consumer alert about an Internet scam where taxpayers receive an e-mail informing them that they are owed a tax refund. The e-mail, which claims to be from the IRS, directs the consumer to a link that requests personal information, such as Social Security number and credit card information.

The bogus e-mail, which appears to come from "tax refunds@irs.gov," tells the recipient that they are eligible to receive a tax refund and then directs them to access a form for the tax refund through a link contained in the e-mail. The link then asks for the personal and financial information.

The IRS does not ask for personal identifying or financial information via unsolicited e-mail, and taxpayers do not have to complete a special form to obtain a refund. The IRS is telling consumers who receive a suspicious e-mail not to open any attachments and to contact the agency at (800) 829-1040 to verify whether the IRS is trying to contact them about a tax refund.

WS+B acquires Newman & Co.

The West Trenton-based firm of Manuel S. Newman & Co. CPAs has merged with WithumSmith+Brown. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Newman & Co. will relocate a staff of nearly a dozen to WS+B's Princeton office. Regional accounting firm WS+B has a staff of approximately 300 and ranked No. 59 on Accounting Today's 2005 Top 100 Firms survey with annual revenues of roughly $31 million. The company acquired Morristown N.J.-based Gershon, Pierce, Lissak & Co. in March, as well as Red Bank, N.J.- based Mendlowitz Weitsen in January.

SEC proposes Net delivery

The Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously voted to request public comment on rules that will allow companies to use the Internet to satisfy proxy material delivery requirements. It's estimated that public companies spend $1 billion each year to print and mail the material.

Comments on the rules, available at www.sec.gov, should be received within the next 60 days before the drawing up of a final rule. If approved, the rule is likely to affect proxy voting beginning in 2007. Paper copies would still be made available to shareholders, but they would have to e-mail the company or call a toll-free telephone number to request a copy.

Top 100 Firms

Accounting Today is currently conducting its annual Top 100 Firms survey, to be published in our March 20, 2006, issue. If your firm had over $20 million in revenue for 2005, and you haven't received a survey e-mail from us, please contact managing editor Daniel Hood at daniel.hood@sourcemedia.com or (212) 803-8858. The deadline for the survey is Jan. 6, 2006.

Correction

"Instant messaging is not always an instant solution," (Accounting Today, Nov. 7-27, 2005, page 3) said that when the encryption in IronIM is turned on, users cannot chat with users on other IM platforms; in fact, they can, but the cross-platform communication will not be encrypted.

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