A third ex-KPMG partner has consented to a guilty plea in connection with charges of fraud and conspiracy in regulatory inspections.
Thomas Whittle, KPMG’s former national partner-in-charge of inspections, settled on five counts of fraud and conspiracy on allegations of “misappropriating, obtaining, sharing, and using” confidential information from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board about which of the firm’s audits would be selected for inspection. The information would be valuable forewarning to audit partners who might like to double-check their work before PCAOB inspectors begin cracking open files.
The plea agreement, signed by Whittle, his counsel, and U.S. attorneys, compels his further cooperation in any further investigation. He faces monetary fines of up to $250,000 on each of the five counts and a total of 85 years in prison.
Cynthia Holder, a former executive director at KPMG, entered her guilty plea in mid-October. Brian Sweet settled charges as authorities announced them in early 2017. Three more individuals are scheduled for trial on similar charges in February.
The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission took action against the former KPMG leaders and a former PCAOB staff member regarding the leak of confidential information dating back to 2015. KPMG had delivered some of the most troubling inspection results in recent years, and all auditors are under pressure to improve inspection findings.
The PCAOB has not yet published a report for the 2016 inspection at KPMG, while other major reports have already been published. The board has not said when, if ever, it will publish the report.