Region round-up

Asia-Pacific

• PricewaterhouseCoopers China and Hong Kong (PwC)
has admitted 57 new partners – 42 in mainland China and 15 in Hong
Kong. The firm now has close to 330 partners. It said the new
partners represent a significant step in its localisation strategy
and is a measure of its success in attracting local talent. PwC
employs more than 8,000 people in China and Hong Kong and expects
this number to top 10,000 by 2010.

• Internal controls at companies listed in mainland China are
not meeting the level of compliance required by regulators,
according to a Deloitte China survey. The survey
found that while 74 percent of the companies surveyed were fully
aware of the regulatory requirements for internal controls, which
have followed an overhaul of regulations and guidelines for listed
companies in recent years, just 20 percent said their existing
internal control systems fully meet the requirements.

• The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public
Accountants
(HKICPA) has lost a case brought against it by
the accountancy functional constituency legislative representative
over its decision not to distribute newsletters and other materials
to certain members. The council had decided not to distribute the
materials to those members who did not request them. A judicial
review was brought to the Court of First Instance over the matter
and the court has now handed down its verdict. HKICPA president
Mark Fong said: “The council, the governing body of the [HKICPA],
will review the decision, assess the implications and consider the
way forward. Council is obviously disappointed in the
decision.”

• The Australian National Institute of Accountants
(NIA) and the Chinese Institute of Certified Public
Accountants
(CICPA) are negotiating arrangements to
simplify the process for their members to hold dual membership. The
expectation is that members of one organisation will receive credit
towards membership of the other organisation. NIA deputy chief
executive Andrew Conway said the Australian institute is “extremely
optimistic” about reaching an agreement with the CICPA on mutual
exemption.

Deloitte Australia has questioned whether a new
standard business reporting programme recently unveiled by the
Australian Government will offer any reduction in the amount of
reporting required for small businesses. Deloitte tax partner David
Pring said the new voluntary programme, which allows businesses to
use their own accounting software to complete reports such as
business activity statements, might improve efficiency. However, he
warned: “Business would like to see a reduction in the amount of
reporting and regulation.”

KPMG Australia has named Peter Nash as its new
national managing partner for audit. Nash, who was the inaugural
head of the firm’s people, performance and culture programme, takes
over from Geoff Wilson, who will be chief executive in 2008. Doug
Bartley replaces Michael Andrew who has become national chairman.
James Allt-Graham, the current head of KPMG’s business performance
services, will take on the additional responsibility of national
managing partner for people, performance and culture.

• Malaysia is to set up a Public Companies Accounting
Oversight Board
in a bid to strengthen corporate
governance in the nation’s capital markets. The pledge was
delivered by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at his
recent budget speech. He explained: “This board will be responsible
for monitoring auditors of public companies to ensure that the
quality and reliability of audited financial statements is
enhanced.” Badawi also revealed that Malaysia’s Code of Corporate
Governance is under review.

Africa, Middle East, South Asia

• The development of accounting expertise in some African countries
is in danger of being compromised because local accounting
institutes cannot compete effectively with international bodies, a
University of Nigeria professor has warned. In a report published
by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of
Scotland
(ICAS), Chibuike Uche said local professional
accounting institutes in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and
Sierra Leone struggle to compete with international accountancy
bodies in indigenous markets for training and education. ICAS
executive director for technical policy David Wood said indigenous
accounting bodies need to develop in ways that are locally and
internationally relevant and “ensure that their qualifications are
not marginalised by those of international accounting
bodies”.

• The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
has formed what it called a “high powered committee” to examine the
leakage of a question paper from its common proficiency test held
last month. The committee consists of three government nominees and
six fellow chartered accountants.

• Independent accountancy and business conglomerate Talal
Abu-Ghazaleh & Co International
(TAGI) has signed a
strategic alliance agreement with independent professional services
firm SMS Latinoamérica. According to TAGI, the
agreement stipulates that both firms may “use their respective
networks where practicable and to their mutual benefit for any
business referrals in the areas of accounting, assurance and
advisory services related to certified public accountant activities
in the Middle East and Central and South America”. SMS
Latinoamérica has member firms in Central and South America while
TAGI has widespread coverage across the Middle East.

• The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England &
Wales
(ICAEW) has signed an agreement with the
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan
(ICAP) that aims to provide global opportunities and strengthen
ties between the institutes. ICAP members will now be able to
undertake advanced level tuition, which will allow them to become
members of the ICAEW. The agreement will also enable sharing of
experience and the exchange of best practice across many
disciplines on behalf of the respective memberships. ICAP currently
has 3,800 members.

Moores Rowland South Africa has joined
Mazars. Since 1 September 2007, the firm, which
has 320 professionals, has been operating under the name Mazars
Moores Rowland.

Europe

• The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group
(EFRAG) has extended the comment period for its draft proposal
addressing the International Accounting Standards Board’s exposure
draft on IFRS for SMEs to 24 September 2007. EFRAG said the
extension is due to “the length and complexity” of the draft.

• The regulatory arm of the Institute of Chartered
Accountants in Ireland
has ordered one of the institute’s
members to be severely reprimanded, fined €10,000 ($13,500) and pay
costs of €10,000. The disciplinary tribunal found that Kevin
O’Donovan from O’Donovan & Partners Chartered Accountants
breached his duty to co-operate with the tribunal; breached his
duty to act in a professional role when he was in receipt of a loan
from a client contrary to the institute’s ethical guide; and
facilitated the making of accounting entries in the records of a
named party, which would have the effect of misleading anyone who
sought to establish the true provenance of certain funds.

Grant Thornton UK has created a cross-discipline
financial services group, which will replace the firm’s financial
markets group and the financial services practice of RSM Robson
Rhodes. The group will be led by Ian Gorham and will comprise 13
partners and a further 150 professionals. Gorham said: “Increasing
our strategic offering in the marketplace has been a key driver for
us over the past 12 to 18 months and the creation of this new team
has helped us achieve this goal.” The financial services group
represents approximately £22 million ($44.4 million) of the firm’s
total revenue. The merger of Grant Thornton with Robson Rhodes
created a firm with fee income of approximately £387 million.

• Former global practice leader and manager at Arthur
Andersen
, Richard Boulton, has been named head of the
financial and accounting services (FAS) group at
LECG. Boulton is a London-based expert in forensic
accounting who joined the global expert services firm in 2002.
LECG’s FAS group accounts for approximately half of its consulting
revenues.

Mazars Ireland has marked its first step into
Northern Ireland by establishing a Belfast practice. The Mazars
Northern Ireland office will be led by Roger Alexander, who joins
the firm from RSM Robson Rhodes where he was the director of public
private partnerships (PPP). Alexander will lead Mazars Ireland’s
construction and property finance, and consultancy team across the
island, offering a specific focus on PPP partnerships. The firm’s
managing partner, Joe Carr, said: “Northern Ireland is an economy
on the cusp of significant growth and Mazars is well positioned to
take advantage of this with our Northern Ireland presence.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers UK (PwC) has appointed
Mike Bailey to lead its indirect tax practice. Bailey has been with
the firm since 1993 and led its value added tax (VAT) team in Wales
and the west of the country before recently moving to London. He
said: “We have a strong indirect tax practice in terms of our
experience and the breadth of skills that our people
possess.”

North America, Latin America

• The SBLR Group, a Canadian member firm of
Enterprise Network Worldwide, has merged with
Freedman Gould effective this month. The combined firm will operate
under the SBLR name. With six partners and 35 professionals, SBLR
specialises in accounting, business consulting and strategic tax
planning services to small and mid-sized businesses in the greater
Toronto area. “This expansion strengthens SBLR’s position as one of
Toronto’s leading, full-service chartered accountant firms catering
to privately-owned growth enterprises,” SBLR managing partner Cary
Selby commented.

• US firm Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co (KLR),
which belongs to The Leading Edge Alliance, has
created a learning programme designed to “foster professional
development and technical skills”. According to the firm, the KLR
University has been established to help the team comply with
current laws and regulations, provide practical knowledge to
heighten skills and effectiveness, and meet individual training and
professional development needs. Thirty-six courses are being
offered, including regulation updates and communication techniques.
Session leaders include local college and university professors,
alliance partners and in-house senior level staff. Managing
director Alan Litwin said: “We believe programmes like KLR
University and work-life balance initiatives are essential in
retaining and hiring the best and brightest talent in our
industry.” KLR is based on Rhode Island and has 110 staff.

CPAmerica member firm Brickley
DeLong
has announced the promotion of a new partner –
Patrick Mutchler. He has been with the Michigan firm since 1990 and
is experienced in tax and accounting.

Grant Thornton US has expanded into the San
Diego market with a new office in Del Mar. The firm has aggressive
expansion plans for the office. It has been opened with 24
professional staff and there are plans for that number to rise to
35 by the end of the year and 100 by 2009. The partner-in-charge of
the new office, Don Williams, said: “Grant Thornton will give [San
Diego] businesses a new choice – one that combines local, national
and international resources of the largest accounting  firms
with intensive partner and executive-level involvement and a
strategic focus on growing private and public companies.” Grant
Thornton now has 52 offices. The new office is part of the firm’s
strategic growth plan for the Southern California region.

KPMG US has launched a programme to provide
leadership training and financial support to minority undergraduate
business students. Fifty students are part of the first group to go
through the initiative, which aims to increase the number of
business leaders in the profession and also in other parts of the
business world. KPMG national managing partner for campus
recruiting Manny Fernandez said: “While the students selected for
the programme are all academically strong, the future diversity
leaders’ programme takes their learning a step further, providing
these students with some of the extra skills, knowledge and
business perspective they need to become the business leaders of
tomorrow.”