goodwill

Today I want to circle back to that lawsuit the SEC filed last week against Sequential Brands for failing to impair its goodwill assets in a timely manner. It’s a glimpse of poor internal control that raises an intriguing question: How many other companies might be in a similarly precarious position?  After all, goodwill has…

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goodwill

You don’t see this too often: the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a fashion retailer with failing to impair goodwill in a timely manner, citing weak internal controls over how management determined goodwill and an attempt to mislead the company’s auditors. The company in question is Squential Brands, which sells clothing brands such as…

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insider

Two top officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission warned this week that companies should pay more heed to the policies they use to govern senior executives’ stock sales, to prevent even the appearance of impropriety when an executive is selling shares.  The comments came from Bill Hinman, director of the Division of Corporation Finance,…

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wells fargo

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged two former top executives at Wells Fargo with misleading investors about the bank’s financial performance — the latest chapter in the endless saga of regulators trying to hold Wells Fargo folks accountable for the bank’s disastrously bad behavior.  The SEC charged John Stumpf, who had been CEO of…

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internal control

For years regulators have talked about the importance of data analytics in enforcement actions. Now the SEC has demonstrated that point with two enforcement actions for poor internal control and earnings manipulation, driven by the agency’s in-house analytics team. So we can’t say nobody warned us.  The enforcement actions were announced Monday, against a carpet…

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ENI

You all may have been at a Zoom virtual happy hour on Friday afternoon, but not the folks at the SEC Division of Enforcement! They quietly settled an FCPA case with Italian energy firm ENI that nicked the company for $24.5 million. In some ways the case is ho-hum. In the late 2000s an ENI…

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disgorgement

The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday about the disgorgement powers of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The justices seemed to be looking for some way to keep the SEC’s powers alive, even if the agency might need to be more constrained in how it pursues disgorgement.  The case, Liu v. SEC, isn’t likely to see…

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cardinal

The Securities and Exchange Commission has served up its first FCPA enforcement action of the year, an $8.8 million slap against Cardinal Health for failing to address bribery risks caused by a cosmetics business Cardinal ran in China. What happened? In November 2010, Cardinal entered the Chinese market by acquiring the Chinese subsidiaries of an…

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sec

Today we get more pedestrian with Wells Fargo and its unauthorized accounts scandal. Sure, the misconduct was egregious and leadership was a disgrace — but how, precisely, did Wells Fargo violate securities law and get a $500 million wallop from the SEC?  By sketchy use of non-financial metrics.  You almost have to laugh. Wells Fargo…

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internal control

Talk about going on a bender: the SEC just fined spirits maker Diageo $5 million for forcing its distributors to buy more liquor than they needed, and then neglecting to tell investors that Diageo’s inflated sales numbers would eventually dry out.  In the world of funny numbers, what Diageo did is known as channel stuffing,…

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