In a new column, Jonathan Weil makes the case that if MF Global could sneak by auditors, so can Goldman Sachs:
Six months ago the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said MF Global Holdings Ltd. and its units “maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of March 31, 2011.” A lot of people who relied on that opinion lost a ton of money.
MF Global filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31. This week the trustee for the liquidation of its U.S. brokerage unit said as much as $1.2 billion of customer money is missing, maybe more. Those deposits should have been kept segregated from the company’s funds. By all indications, they weren’t.
What’s the point of having auditors do reports like this? And are they worth the cost? It’s getting harder to answer those questions in a way the accounting profession would favor.