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Former KPMG and audit officials convicted for inspection scheme

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A New York jury has convicted David Middendorf, KPMG’s former national managing partner for audit quality and professional practice, and Jeffrey Wada, a former inspections leader at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), on wire fraud and conspiracy charges after they shared confidential materials ahead of a planned inspection of the Big Four auditing firm, says Accounting Today.

Six employees at KPMG and the PCAOB were charged last year with participating in the scheme (see SEC charges former KPMG and PCAOB officials with ‘stealing’ inspection exam). The Securities and Exchange Commission accused the former PCAOB officials of making unauthorized disclosures of board plans for inspections of KPMG audits, allowing the former Big Four firm partners to analyze and revise their audit workpapers so they could avoid negative inspection findings.

Two of the former PCAOB officials eventually left the board to work at KPMG. The SEC accused a third official of leaking PCAOB data while he was looking for a job at the firm. The three former KPMG partners were all members of the firm’s national office. The scheme started in 2015 and lasted until February 2017. KPMG learned from an internal source about the misconduct and reported the situation to the PCAOB and the SEC. Not long afterward, the six CPAs either were fired or resigned, or were placed on leave before being terminated.

“Maintaining the integrity of the PCAOB’s confidential information is critical to fulfilling our statutory mission,” said PCAOB Chairman William Duhnke in a statement emailed to Accounting Today. “The misconduct that led to the trial directly contradicts the public’s expectations of the auditing profession, as well as the mission, vision, and values of the PCAOB.”

A KPMG spokesperson declined to comment.

The SEC announced charges against the former officials in January 2018. In October, one of the officials who had worked for both KPMG and the PCAOB, Cynthia Holder, a former inspections leader at the board and former executive director at KPMG, pled guilty (see Former PCAOB and KPMG exec pleads guilty in inspection scheme). Two of the other former officials, Thomas Sweet and Brian Whittle, also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges and reportedly testified against Middendorf and Wada.

Middendorf was convicted Monday of four of the five counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, while Wada was convicted of three of the four counts of those charges, according to the legal news site Law360. They were both acquitted on other conspiracy and fraud-related counts. David Britt, a former co-leader of KPMG’s banking and capital markets practice, is still awaiting trial.