Scandalous true crimes of IFRS!

The Ontario Securities Commission earlier this year launched the Office of the Whistleblower, the first paid whistleblower program by a securities regulator in Canada. The program offers compensation of up to $5 million to individuals who come forward with tips that lead to enforcement action. It accepts tips on “possible violations of Ontario securities law, including illegal insider trading, market manipulation,” and, most excitingly for our purposes, “on accounting and disclosure violations.”

“Our whistleblower program is a powerful addition to our enforcement arsenal and a game-changer for securities enforcement in Canada,” said Maureen Jensen, Chair and CEO of the OSC, at the time. “The program will enhance our ability to protect investors and achieve better outcomes for our markets by helping us identify and pursue violations of securities law that may only come to light through a whistleblower.”

The OSC emphasizes that the program offers important protections. Whistleblowers can report anonymously, and the OSC will make all reasonable efforts to protect the confidentiality of whistleblowers. Still, information wants to be free, as some say, and knowing my interest in IFRS, a group of Russian hackers recently forwarded to me some of the financial reporting-related tips received by the program. As an important public service, and perhaps as a warning to potential future wrongdoers, I’m reproducing some of them here, while removing important identifying information:

Stanley Z bravely accuses the depreciation policy at R Company: “They depreciate the motor vehicles over four years. I’ve been driving for forty years and I’m still on my third car. If you observe the speed limits and carry out regular maintenance, a good vehicle can last the best part of a lifetime. It’s criminal how people treat their cars nowadays.”

Anthony G reports that the individual responsible for IFRS compliance at his company has no capacity to fill his role adequately “because there’s nothing international about him.” He informed the OSC: “Me, I’ve been to fourteen countries, and I can say ‘please, just take the money and leave me the credit cards’ in all of them. This dude has so little sense of the world, he thinks you need a passport to visit London, Ontario. He won’t even watch movies set in Europe. Someone with so little interest in the ‘I’ of ‘FRS’ obviously can’t make any headway on the other three letters either (and as far as the ‘S’ goes, his personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired). Step in OSC and teach this loser a lesson.”

Without identifying the basis for his confidence, Pedro Y asserts that the financial statements of H Corp. “could definitely be shorter, if they really tried.”

From Todd B: “This loser in another department asked to borrow my IFRS red book. Now he won’t give it back. He says he lost it, but I just know it’s locked up in his drawer.”

Louisa W points a finger at L Inc.: “The financial statements have this massive amount of deferred tax on there. But they have plenty of money, believe me. They shouldn’t be deferring a penny of it for a day longer. Come on OSC and make them do the right thing.”

Albert T testifies against his own CFO: ‘I heard the guy say: we’re going to have all the adjusted non-GAAP measures we want, and I’m going to add back everything except the kitchen sink. And if the OSC doesn’t like it, they can kiss my ass!”

Eunice A claims that the financial statements of Q Bank are fundamentally misleading: “They have this big thing on the balance sheet called goodwill. But seriously, no one in this world has any goodwill toward them. Every single person despises them. Even their own directors despise them. No one sends them a Christmas card, let alone a gift. It shouldn’t be called goodwill. It should be called Hatred.”

Eleanor P is one of the small number of those who come forward to blow the whistle on themselves: “I’m an audit partner at a big firm, and I’ve made millions of dollars from my IFRS skills. But I’ve never been able to get over the feeling that it’s all crap. I want rules and bright lines and thousands of pages of prescriptive detail. I lie awake at night convinced that IFRS will bring down the financial markets, and when it does, I won’t be able to live with myself. Please, Ontario Securities Commission, lock me up before I offend again, for my own good and for the good of all of us.”

For readers who’ve been reading along and trying to guess the outcomes, the cases set out above have yet to result in significant enforcement action. But the fight against wrongdoing continues! Happy holidays!

The opinions expressed (except of course for those expressed by other brave citizens) are solely those of the author

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