Don’t bank on it…

You think they would have known better wouldn’t you?

One was the CEO and the other was their reputation and risk leader and director of independence.

And we’re not talking about any company here. We’re talking about Deloitte Japan.

The SEC has just fined them $2million for breaching independence rules.

Futomichi Amano, the (now former) CEO of Deloitte Japan and his (now former) colleague Yuji Itagaki who was director of independence held bank accounts at one of their banking clients.

It isn’t necessary a problem if auditors have bank accounts at a client but if the amount they have in those accounts is above a pre-determined limit it could impact on their independence.

After all, if you’re an auditor checking the books of a bank and you have a lot of your own money in that bank you may be reluctant to highlight any problems if the bank could go under as a result and you lose your money.

The SEC press release explained “Under the SEC’s rules, accountants are not considered to be independent if they maintain bank accounts with an audit client with balances greater than FDIC or similar depositary insurance limits. According to the SEC’s order, Deloitte Japan knew but failed to adequately disclose that Amano maintained bank account balances with the audit client’s subsidiary bank that compromised his independence.“

It wasn’t just the CEO and director of independence that held bank accounts. The SEC press release continued with

“A subsequent investigation by the firm revealed that 88 other Deloitte Japan employees had financial relationships with the audit client that compromised their independence as well. The SEC’s order also found that Deloitte Japan’s system of quality controls did not provide reasonable assurances that the firm and its auditors were independent from audit clients. For example, the SEC’s order found that Deloitte Japan failed to adequately staff and supervise its Office of Independence and caused certain independence violations by making deposits to partners’ bank accounts that exceeded the deposit insurance limits.”

The outcome was that Deloitte Japan agreed to pay $2 million in monetary sanctions and be censured. Mr Amano and Mr Itagaki agreed to be suspended from appearing and practicing before the SEC as accountants, which includes not participating in the financial reporting or audits of public companies.

More than a coke…

When people think of Coca Cola, they almost certainly will have a red can or bottle with the ubiquitous “Coke Red” in their mind.

Coca Cola as a business though is much more than the coke drink.

Whether it’s organic tea, juices, coconut water, sports drinks, mineral waters, ready-to-drink coffees or protein drinks they’ve got it covered.

They have over 500 brands in their portfolio and the company has done a great job of diversifying into other non-alcoholic drinks. In the UK for example, they purchased Costa (the coffee chain shop) last October for £3.9bn.

They have just released their latest set of financial figures though and the market didn’t react favourably.

The company is quoted on the New York stock exchange and yesterday their share price fell by 8.5%. This was their largest one-day percentage decline for over 10 years.

The company reported their 4th quarter results and revenue had fallen from $7.5bn in the corresponding period last year to $7.1bn.

The company warned that weak overseas sales would hit profits this year. Areas highlighted as performing below expectations were Argentina, Turkey and the Middle East. There were also foreign exchange issues in connection with the strong dollar.

In summary, there were a few issues which spooked the investors a bit yesterday but it’s fair to say that the future looks ok for Coca Cola as their market value is still pretty impressive.

Even after the 8.5% fall the company is valued at $212 billion.

Burning calories and cash

Do you have a bank card and do you go to the gym?

If you do, then watch out if the gym has lockers which are locked using a code on a pin pad.

London accountant, Matthew Spencer, had nearly £10,000 stolen from his bank account and he believes it all happened while he was working out at an upmarket gym in Canary Wharf.

The fraudsters were very clever as it looks like they saw what pin code Matthew used when locking his locker and then when he was out of the changing room used that code to open his locker. Rather than steal his whole wallet though they only stole his HSBC debit card from his wallet.

Having taken his debit card they then correctly assumed that the pin code he’d used on the locker was the same for his debit card.

It was only later that day when Matthew went to buy a tube ticket that he realised his debit card was missing and after checking with the bank found that nearly £10,000 had been spent that day on computers, top restaurants and cash withdrawals.

Unfortunately for Matthew, the bank is refusing to refund the money as the card was used with the pin code. It’s currently being considered by the Financial Ombudsman Service but it’s not looking good for him.

The moral of this unfortunate situation though is that if you do go to the gym and use lockers with a pin code then make sure it is a different code from the one you use on your bank cards.