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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

SEC News Digest

Issue 2008-205
October 22, 2008


Chairman Christopher Cox to Testify

Chairman Cox will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Thursday, October 23, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2154, concerning "The Role of Federal Regulators".

Chief Accountant is Seeking Candidates for Four Professional Accounting Fellow Positions

The Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of the Chief Accountant is now accepting applications for Professional Accounting Fellow (PAF) positions. The PAF program, which began in 1972, is designed to provide participating fellows with outstanding opportunities for public service to investors, personal development, and career advancement. During their fellowship, the successful candidates will be involved in the study and development of rule proposals under the federal securities laws, liaison with accounting, auditing and other professional standard-setting bodies, and consultation with registrants on reporting matters. The Office of the Chief Accountant plans to select up to four candidates for the following positions:

  • The Office of the Chief Accountant's Accounting Group would like to select two candidates with significant experience in the application of U.S. GAAP and/or International Financial Reporting Standards (areas of specialty may include, but are not limited to, accounting topics such as revenue recognition, compensation, business combinations, and financial instruments);
  • The Office of the Chief Accountant's International Group would like to select one candidate with significant experience with International Financial Reporting Standards and/or International Standards on Auditing; and
  • The Office of the Chief Accountant's Professional Practice Group would like to select one candidate with significant experience in internal control over financial reporting under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and analyzing and implementing auditing, independence, and/or quality control standards.

Interested applicants should submit:

  • a resume;
  • Standard Form 171, "Personal Qualification Statement," Form OF-612, "Optional Application for Federal Employment," or any other written format that clearly identifies the title (Professional Accounting Fellow) and grade (SK16-14) of the job for which the applicant is applying; and
  • at least two letters of recommendation from non-relatives.

Standard Form 171, Form OF-612, and "Applying for a Federal Job," which highlights the information to be included in the resume or other written submission, can be obtained from the Office of Administrative and Personnel Management, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C., 20549. Form OF-612 is also available on the Internet at http://www.opm.gov.

Applicants are required to submit an eight to twelve page essay that they have prepared on their own on a subject directly related to a current accounting or auditing topic. While no restriction is placed on the essay topic, applicants should consider focusing their essay on a particular technical topic and supplementing their technical discussion with a consideration of one or more interrelated policy-level issues. Applicants are encouraged to consider selecting any accounting or auditing topic on which they possess expertise. Suggested accounting and auditing topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Classification and measurement issues related to liabilities and equity;
  • Fair value measurements and auditing fair value estimates;
  • Cash or share-based compensation arrangements;
  • Pensions and other postretirement benefits;
  • Lease accounting;
  • Consolidation policy;
  • Derecognition of financial assets;
  • Revenue recognition;
  • Derivative accounting;
  • Financial statement presentation;
  • Auditor responsibility for detecting fraud; and
  • Internal controls over financial reporting.

Suggested policy-level considerations to be discussed in connection with the technical topic include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Final recommendations of the SEC Advisory Committee on Improvements to Financial Reporting;
  • International convergence of accounting and auditing standards;
  • The role of International Financial Reporting Standards in the United States;
  • Fair value as a measurement basis;
  • Structured transactions;
  • Audit considerations in setting accounting standards; and
  • SEC oversight of the PCAOB and FASB.

The application and essay should be submitted on or before Jan. 16, 2009, to the Chief Accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, DC, 20549. In addition to the hard copy, applicants should also submit a CD that includes their essay and resume in electronic form. Inquiries about the program may be addressed to the attention of Evan Sussholz or Doug Parker in the Office of the Chief Accountant at (202) 551-3622 and (202) 551-5316, respectively.

The Commission's policy of affording equal employment opportunity to all interested candidates will be followed.

SEC Announces Fiscal 2008 Enforcement Results

Agency Brings Second-Highest Number of Actions Ever; Significant Increase in Insider Trading and Market Manipulation Cases

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that the second-highest number of enforcement actions in agency history took place in fiscal year 2008. For the second year in a row, the SEC also returned more than $1 billion to harmed investors through Fair Fund distributions.

"The SEC's role in policing the markets and protecting investors has never been more critical," said Linda Chatman Thomsen, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. "The dedicated enforcement staff has been working around the clock to investigate and punish wrongdoing. The staff's commitment is unwavering year-in and year-out. We look forward to continuing our vital mission of investor protection in the coming year."

The SEC brought 671 enforcement actions during the just-completed fiscal year, with the number of insider trading and market manipulation cases up more than 25 percent and 45 percent respectively over the previous year. In addition, the SEC has more than 50 ongoing investigations relating to the subprime market.

The Division of Enforcement also reached preliminary settlements in principle with six of the largest firms in the auction rate securities market. Although not included in these FY 2008 enforcement statistics, these settlements, which are subject to final approval by the Commission, would be the largest in the history of the SEC and would return more than $50 billion to investors.

The SEC took a record number of enforcement actions against market manipulation in FY 2008, including charges against a Wall Street short seller for spreading false rumors, and charging 10 insiders or promoters of publicly traded companies who made stock sales in exchange for illegal kickbacks.

Among the major fraud cases brought by the SEC in FY 2008, the SEC sued two Bear Stearns hedge fund managers for fraudulently misleading investors about the financial state of the firm's two largest hedge funds. The agency also charged five former employees of the City of San Diego for failing to disclose to the investing public buying the city's municipal bonds that there were funding problems with its pension and retiree health care obligations and those liabilities had placed the city in serious financial jeopardy.

The SEC brought the highest number ever of insider trading cases in FY 2008, including charging former Dow Jones Board Member David Li and three other Hong Kong residents in a $24 million insider trading enforcement action, and charging the former chairman and CEO of a division of Enron Corp. with illegally selling hundreds of thousands of shares of Enron stock based on nonpublic information.

Combating accounting fraud, including illegal stock option backdating, also was a priority for fiscal year 2008. During the year, the SEC charged eight public companies and 27 executives with providing false information to investors based on improper accounting for backdated stock option grants.

Another growth area is cases against U.S. public companies that use corporate funds to bribe foreign officials, an activity precluded by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In fiscal year 2008, the SEC filed 15 FCPA cases. Since January 2006, the SEC has brought 38 FCPA enforcement actions - more than were brought in all prior years combined since FCPA became law in 1977.

Additional data on the SEC's FY 2008 enforcement results will be available as part of the agency's Performance and Accountability Report, which is scheduled to be published in mid-November. (Press Rel. 2008-254)


In the Matter of MAII Holdings, Inc.

An Administrative Law Judge has issued an Order Making Findings and Revoking Registrations as to Two Respondents (Default Order) in MAII Holdings, Inc., Administrative Proceeding No. 3-13161. The Order Instituting Proceedings alleged that MAII Holdings, Inc., Tandycrafts, Inc., and Transportation Equities, Inc., each failed repeatedly to file required annual and quarterly reports while their securities were registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission).

On Oct. 3, 2008, the Commission accepted an Offer of Settlement from Transportation Equities, Inc. See MAII Holdings, Inc., Exchange Act Release No. 58727 (Oct. 3, 2008).

The Default Order finds the allegations to be true as to the remaining two Respondents. It revokes the registrations of each class of registered securities of MAII Holdings, Inc., and Tandycrafts, Inc., pursuant to Section 12(j) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. (Rel. 34-58826; File No. 3-13161)

In the Matter of Odessa Foods Int'l, Inc.

An Administrative Law Judge has issued an Order Making Findings and Revoking Registrations by Default (Default Order) in Odessa Foods Int'l, Inc., Administrative Proceeding No. 3-13178. The Order Instituting Proceedings alleged that five Respondents each failed repeatedly to file required annual and quarterly reports while their securities were registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Default Order finds these allegations to be true. It revokes the registrations of each class of registered securities of Odessa Foods International, Inc., Omega Dynamics, Inc., Omni Investors Group, Inc., Omnicorp Ltd., and Ongard Systems, Inc., pursuant to Section 12(j) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. (Rel. 34-58830; File No. 3-13178)





Modified: 10/22/2008