PCAOB to Consider New Ethics and Independence Rule

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board plans to hold an open meeting on April 22 to consider adopting a new ethics and independence rule concerning communications with audit committees that would supersede the board's interim independence requirement. The rule would require a registered public accounting firm to communicate to an issuer's audit committee about any relationships between the firm or any of its affiliates and the issuer or persons in financial reporting oversight roles at the issuer that may reasonably be thought to bear on the firm's independence. In addition, the board will consider adopting an amendment to its rule on tax services for persons in financial reporting oversight roles that would exclude from the scope of the rule tax services provided during the portion of the audit period that precedes the beginning of the professional engagement period.

AICPA Praises Passage of CPA Provisions in Tax Bill

The American Institute of CPAs issued a statement praising the House’s passage this week of the Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act, noting that they contain two provisions important to tax preparers. The provisions would equalize the IRS disclosure standards for tax preparers and taxpayers on tax positions, and make it easier for businesses to account for cell phone use by removing cell phones from listed property. However, the AICPA noted that the Bush administration has threatened to veto the bill over a separate provision that would repeal the IRS’s Private Debt Collection Program and urged House and Senate lawmakers to find a compromise.

FASB and FAF Plan Global Standards Forum

The Financial Accounting Foundation and the Financial Accounting Standards Board plan to host a forum on "High-Quality Global Accounting Standards: Issues and Implications for U.S. Financial Reporting" on Monday, June 16, in New York at Baruch College.

NetSuite Introduces OneWorldNetsuite announced NetSuite OneWorld, a set of accounting, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and e-commerce software delivered over the Internet. The software uses a “cloud computing” architecture to allow multinational and multi-subsidiary businesses to manage global business operations in real time via the Web.

Samsung Chairman Indicted for Tax Evasion

Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee has been indicted on tax evasion and breach of trust charges by South Korean authorities, according to Reuters, but he escaped a bribery charge. The authorities also indicted nine other Samsung execs as part of an investigation into a slush fund that the company allegedly used to bribe politicians. Lee faces a sentence of five years to life in prison if he is convicted.

Russian Authorities Investigating PricewaterhouseCoopers

The Moscow Times reported that the Russian Finance Ministry plans to launch an investigation soon into PricewaterhouseCoopers’ license terms and requirements. PwC told the paper that reviews by the Russian Auditors’ Chamber and the Institute of Professional Accountants and Auditors commissioned by the Finance Ministry have not identified any significant issues. The firm has also been fighting charges and fines from Russian authorities accusing PwC of violating professional standards in its audits of the energy company Yukos, whose CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky is in jail on tax evasion charges.

Breitbard Receives Financial Literacy Award

Stanley Breitbard, a founding member of the American Institute of CPAs’ National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, has received the 2008 William E. Odom Visionary Leadership Award from the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.  He is the first CPA to receive the award.

IASB Mulls Stricter Bank Disclosures

The International Accounting Standards Board is considering proposals to force banks to disclose their off-balance-sheet assets, according to the Financial Times. The IASB is considering improving disclosure of these assets through a kind of parallel or "shadow" balance sheet that would detail any assets, such as securitized mortgages, not shown on the bank's regular balance sheet.

Merrill Lynch Takes $6 Billion Writedown

Merrill Lynch said it would cut approximately 4,000 jobs after announcing first quarter losses of $1.97 billion and a writedown of $6 billion, mostly on residential mortgage exposures and leveraged loans. On the plus side, the financial giant benefited from record quarterly net revenues in its Global Wealth Management unit.

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