March 1, 2004

The Eisner Letters To get

To get you in the mood for our Wednesday webcast – “Conduct of the Annual Meeting” – which will include two panelists reporting from the Disney annual meeting (including one who is Disney’s Delaware lawyer), here is the recently unsealed 1996 letter from Michael Eisner to Michael Ovitz as well as the recent letter from Comcast’s CEO to Eisner regarding Comcast’s proposed acquisition.

Corp Fin’s Advice to Oil & Gas Industries

Last week, Corp Fin advised they had sent out an accounting advice letter – sort of a “global comment letter” – to all companies that they have identified as being in the oil and gas production business. In posting this letter on the SEC’s website, the staff noted that companies that did not receive the letter – but which have subsidiaries or operations in oil and gas production – should nevertheless consult the letter in preparing their filings.

FAS 69 requires specific, unique disclosures about oil and gas production; some uncertainty was thrown in, however, by the recent adoption of FAS 143 (re: asset retirement obligations) and how that affects the FAS 69 disclosures. (FAS 143 did not amend FAS 69.) This new letter gives the staff’s views on how the recognition of a liability for an asset retirement obligation and the related depreciation of the asset and accretion of the liability under FAS 143 interplay with four specific disclosure areas mandated by FAS 69: Capitalized Costs; Results of Operations; Costs Incurred; and Standardized Measures. I wonder if this is the start of the staff periodically posting global comments applicable to specific industries – a concept that has been kicked around in Corp Fin for over 5 years.

Understanding the Impact of Forensic Accounting on Fraud Investigations

From my days as the enforcement liaison from Corp Fin (on an interim basis when the guru in this area, Mary Kosterlitz, was out on maternity leave – Mary now leads a team of staffers in Corp Fin in this function), I have always known that forensic accounting is necessary to parse accounting fraud – and that these investigations are very complex.

However, I never really knew what went on at ground level…well, now I do through my interview with Howard Silverstone and Mike Sheetz on the Impact of Forensic Accounting on Fraud Investigations. This is Part I of a two-part interview.