MBAF Welcomes Director to Help Lead Growth of Regulatory Risk Solutions Practice

Heidy Duarte

Heidy Duarte

Heidy Duarte has joined Miami-based MBAF (FY17 net revenue of $124.3 million) to increase the firm’s offering of Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering compliance for both domestic and international clients.

Duarte, based in the Miami office, will help lead the firm’s growing regulatory risk solutions practice. Duarte brings more than 12 years of experience in the financial services industry with a focus on strengthening fraud prevention and detection procedures for a wide variety of clients. She helps domestic and international financial institutions prepare for and respond to regulatory examinations, including compliance with remediation requirements of regulatory enforcement actions and monitoring activities.

“Heidy will play a large role in advancing our regulatory risk solutions practice and will be instrumental in guiding clients through the evolving and increasingly complex regulatory expectations that we are seeing here in the U.S. and abroad,” says MP Antonio Argiz. “Her expertise in risk management and internal control will be a significant asset for clients and will further strengthen our suite of offerings.”

Prior to MBAF, Duarte led the corporate financial fraud team at a national bank, where she was responsible for promoting and implementing compliance standards and internal controls throughout the institution as well as minimizing fraud exposure. Additionally, she previously worked in a Big 4 firm where she performed assurance work for several financial institutions and participated in audits for public and private companies.

Armanino Brings Trust-as-a-Service (TaaS) to Blockchain

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP (FY17 net revenue of $242.7 million) has partnered with TrustToken to build a solution that will add transparency and trust to digital assets.

As a global leader in digitizing assets that can be seamlessly and securely exchanged across liquid markets, TrustToken and its TrueUSD® stablecoin cryptocurrency can be monitored via a dashboard hosted by Armanino. The solution connects directly to third-party escrow accounts holding the U.S. dollars that collateralize TrueUSD tokens, and runs its own ETH nodes to ensure accuracy of the outstanding TrueUSD token supply.

“Blockchain technology is all about enabling us to transact in a trustless peer-to-peer way. It’s important to us to build products that further advance this mission,” says Andries Verschelden, PIC of Armanino’s blockchain practice. “Through our dashboard we will create direct transparency into the marketplace and increase trust for all users, thus allowing a wider adaptation of this important product.”

“This sets a new standard not only for stablecoins, but for all tokenized assets in the future,” says Rafael Cosman, co-founder and head of engineering and product at TrustToken. “With real-time confirmation of funds provided by one of the world’s leading accounting firms, traders will know at all times that their tokens are backed by real-world value.”

Continuous attest has long been a goal within the audit profession, and this proprietary, real-time dashboard offering complete transparency regarding how digital assets are backed is a step in this direction, TrustToken says. The firm is developing programmatic approaches for auditing and attesting on underlying assets, whether fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies, precious metals, real estate or debt obligations.

“At Armanino we want to advance the audit function into the digital age. This means relying on technology to increase speed and effectiveness in bringing trust to our community,” says Scott Copeland, PIC of Armanino’s audit practice.

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Former KPMG Partner, PCAOB Staffer Found Guilty of Inspection Scheme

A former KPMG partner and a former PCAOB employee found guilty on March 11 of taking part in a scheme to give confidential information to the Big 4 firm to help it pass inspections, according to Reuters.

KPMG’s David Middendorf and the PCAOB’s Jeffrey Wada were both convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud by a jury in federal court in Manhattan. They were both acquitted of one count, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

Middendorf’s lawyer said in an email to Reuters that they were disappointed with the result and would appeal. A lawyer for Wada declined to comment.

The case emerged from what’s been termed a “steal the exam” scheme that resulted in the dismissal of six KPMG professionals who tried to obtain confidential information that would reveal which audits the PCAOB planned to review in its annual firm inspections.

The PCAOB reports problems revealed in its audit inspections to the SEC. Prosecutors say Wada leaked confidential information about upcoming PCAOB inspections to people at KPMG, including Middendorf, between 2015 and 2017. Also charged was Cynthia Holder and Brian Sweet, two former PCAOB staffers who joined KPMG during that period, bringing confidential information with them to their new jobs. Wada was angling to make a similar move, according to prosecutors, Reuters reported.

Former KPMG executive Thomas Whittle was also charged. Holder, Sweet and Whittle all pleaded guilty before trial.

EisnerAmper Expands Cannabis Practice

New York-based EisnerAmper (FY18 net revenue of $360.7 million) anticipates rapid expansion of the hemp and cannabis industry at the federal, state and international levels and is therefore expanding its services.

EisnerAmper is adding to its accounting, tax and advisory services for hemp and cannabis companies, from startup to exit. The firm also helps entities prepare for and adapt to regulatory changes and offer compliance services designed to meet annual governmental reporting requirements.

“This is the fastest-growing and most quickly evolving industry I’ve seen in my 35 years in business advisory services,” says Rick Frimmer, EisnerAmper managing director and cannabis and hemp practice leader. “What sets us apart is our practical experience having performed many engagements in this one-of-a-kind sector on behalf of both public and private companies. We know the landscape. We know the participants. And our lengthy track record of accounting proficiency and a client-centric approach is widely known.”

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Deloitte US Elects Ucuzoglu CEO, Foutty Chair

Joseph Ucuzoglu

Joseph Ucuzoglu

Joseph Ucuzoglu has been elected CEO and Janet Foutty has been elected chair of the board of New York-based Deloitte (FY17 net revenue of $18.6 billion), the largest accounting firm in the country. Both terms begin June 2.

Ucuzoglu and Foutty will succeed current Deloitte US CEO Cathy Engelbert and chairman Mike Fucci at the conclusion of their four-year terms. In July, the firm told its partners that Engelbert, the first woman to run a Big 4 firm in the U.S., would not be renominated for a second four-year term. In December, Ucuzoglu and Foutty were named the official candidates, subject to a vote this year.

“Joe’s distinguished record of serving our clients and driving transformative, technology-driven change positions him to lead our firm as clients, the capital markets, and society at large turn to Deloitte to navigate the opportunities brought on by the fourth industrial revolution” says Fucci in a statement. “Janet’s extensive leadership experience across multiple dimensions of our businesses, combined with her deep understanding of technology and innovation, the workforce of the future, and her commitment to inclusion have earned her a broad followership internally and externally.”

He added, “I would like to offer my gratitude to Cathy, a recognized leader in the business community who has led Deloitte US during her term to record growth while making significant investments in innovation and supporting our people’s professional lives and career journeys with a series of groundbreaking initiatives.”

Ucuzoglu currently serves as the chair and CEO of Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he has overseen all aspects of the transformation of the audit and assurance practice over the past four years. Ucuzoglu serves several of Deloitte’s largest clients and serves on Deloitte Global’s board of directors.

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Baker Tilly Partners with Visual Lease

Chicago-based Baker Tilly (FY18 net revenue of $578.4 million) announces a partnership with leading lease accounting and management software provider, Visual Lease. The enterprise level lease accounting software provides:

  • Flexible, cloud-based lease accounting software
  • Compatibility with all lease types
  • Highly efficient automated lease accounting
  • Ability to import lease data
  • Classification of leases with an automated lease test
  • Automated lease calculations, journal entries and disclosures
  • Easily configurable Excel-based reporting

The new ASC 842 standard on accounting for leases changes the financial reporting obligations of companies that enter into leasing transactions for assets such as real estate, vehicles and equipment.

“This scalable solution offers exceptional value by creating efficiencies for clients who want a user-friendly solution for high-volume lease portfolios,” Jere Shawver, Baker Tilly’s MP of assurance and risk, says. “They need to comply with the new ASC 842 standard, but without this solution they would have to manually account for their leases, driving up their internal costs and reducing available resources to complete high value projects.”

Marc Betesh, CEO of Visual Lease, says, “By implementing the Baker Tilly / Visual Lease solution, companies can quickly comply with the new lease accounting standard through a proven solution that combines a leading lease administration software solution with excellent implementation and consulting support from a top firm in the industry. In the end, Baker Tilly’s clients will have improved financial and operational control over their leases.”

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Aprio Launches Forensic and Investigative Services

Nicole Ponziani

Nicole Ponziani

Atlanta-based Aprio LLP (FY17 net revenue of $85.1 million) has launched a new team within its litigation support and forensic accounting services group – forensic and investigative services.

The team is led by Nicole Ponziani, who uses proprietary models to work with attorneys and clients in gathering evidence in the investigation of alleged “bad acts.” Her involvement includes the handling of internal and criminal investigations through subject interviews and tracing of assets with proven results.

Some examples of Aprio’s forensic and investigative services work include:

  • The Aprio team was engaged to investigate and analyze a multi-million-dollar asset misappropriation involving a financial institution. Hundreds of transactions and identified recipients were found to be fraudulent. Restitution was sought and the proper documents were provided to the regulators, insurance carrier and law enforcement.
  • The Aprio team performed an internal investigation on a multi-million-dollar private company. We identified a significant misappropriation of assets. Under our guidance the company rectified the inadequacies in their internal controls. A claim to their insurance carrier and a report to law enforcement was prepared.

Ponziani, with a degree in criminology, has more than 17 years of experience having worked with local law enforcement and fraud countermeasures compliance in areas such as fraud investigations, financial services regulatory compliance, FCPA, RICO, HR investigations, money laundering and Ponzi schemes.

“It is our goal to minimize the impact that an investigation has on our clients’ businesses operations,” said Howard Zandman, PIC of litigation support and forensic accounting services. “The forensics and investigative services team’s expertise in getting beneath the surface enables us to reach solutions efficiently and effectively and provide evidence that is clear, understandable and withstands the rigors of court.”

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Robin Bell Appointed to Board of Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis

Robin Bell

Robin Bell

Creve Coeur, Mo.-based Brown Smith Wallace (FY17 net revenue of $46.3 million) announced that Robin Bell, a partner in the tax services practice, has been appointed to the board of the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis.

Bell has more than 25 years of accounting, auditing and tax experience and is a key member of the Brown Smith Wallace tax practice management team. She helps lead the firm’s community service projects and Women’s Leadership Program, both internally and externally, making this new board position an especially good fit for her talents and interests.

Founded in 2007 by a group of forward-thinking St. Louis women, The Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis is committed to improving the lives of women and girls in the St. Louis region by encouraging and promoting their economic self-sufficiency. The foundation assists women in local communities through grants to emerging and established nonprofits that seek to improve economic independence for women and girls.

“Promoting financial literacy and economic self-sufficiency in women and girls is incredibly important, and I look forward to working with the organization to support local nonprofits in their efforts to improve the lives of St. Louis women,” Bell says.

Armanino Opens New Office in Seattle

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP (FY17 net revenue of $242.7 million) has added a new full-service office with tax, audit and consulting resources located in downtown Seattle to meet the needs of its established clients and develop new opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.

As a region ripe with expanding technology companies, world-class nonprofit organizations and a strong midmarket presence, Armanino recognized a prime opportunity to bring value to the market, the firm announced.

“We are seeing a need for more specialized resources in the region, whether that means consulting with us for technical accounting or SOX, complex tax issues or a broader outsourced finance solution,” says CEO Matt Armanino. “We’re also excited about the potential to grow a connection to the robust local talent pool and, being a top 1% Microsoft partner, our new proximity provides direct access to Microsoft.” Microsoft is headquartered in nearby Redmond, Wash.

Armanino’s aggressive growth is anchored in its pursuit of expanded service lines, technology solutions and specialized expertise. The firm has been listed on INSIDE Public Accounting’s Best of the Best list for 15 of the last 16 years, and has a Net Promoter Score that is nearly double the average for the accounting industry.

Armanino’s Seattle location is at 801 Second Ave.

Armanino has seven offices in California, in San Ramon, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Woodland Hills and El Segundo. The firm is also operates from offices in Dallas and Naperville, Ill.

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Frazier & Deeter Opens First International Office

Atlanta-based Frazier & Deeter (FY17 net revenue of $83.6 million) has announced the opening of an office in London, which will operate as Frazier & Deeter U.K.

Frazier & Deeter U.K. will offer business advisory services, including international tax, tax compliance, transaction advisory and other services to support critical business decisions.

“Expanding to the U.K. will help Frazier & Deeter better support our multi-national clients,” notes MP Seth McDaniel. “We are ideally positioned to assist British businesses looking to maximize Anglo/U.S. trade opportunities in the post-Brexit era.”

The U.K. practice will be led by Malcolm Joy, an award-winning expert in international tax. He has served as a resource for BBC news and Bloomberg regarding tax matters. Joy was formerly an equity partner with BDO, where he served in a variety of U.K. and global leadership roles.

“Based on my many years as a tax advisor, I believe Frazier & Deeter’s strong culture, with its emphasis on investing in relationships, will delight our clients as we grow Frazier & Deeter U.K.,” he says. “Our ownership structure and focus on the U.K. and the U.S. provide us with an excellent platform for serving international clients.”

Frazier & Deeter and its subsidiaries have nine offices across the United States. “We see tremendous opportunity for Frazier & Deeter in the U.K.,” says McDaniel. “We believe our culture of client service and our track record of delivering value to clients will help us grow a strong practice in the U.K.”

The firm has been recognized repeatedly by INSIDE Public Accounting as a Best of the Best firm.

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