Monday 29 June, 2020

The path not taken

From a walk yesterday.

Whenever I walk in a wood I find myself thinking of Robert Frost.


EasY does it: just don’t check the bank statements

I’ve always thought that the big consulting firms are basically frauds, but I thought they could probably do audits. Seems I was wrong.

According to the FT,

EY between 2016 and 2018 did not check directly with Singapore’s OCBC Bank to confirm that the lender held large amounts of cash on behalf of Wirecard. Instead, EY relied on documents and screenshots provided by a third-party trustee and Wirecard itself.

A senior auditor at another firm said that obtaining independent confirmation of bank balances was “equivalent to day-one training at audit school”.

Hopefully, investors in Wirecard will now sue EY into the ground.

Maybe I will be an auditor when I grow up, on the grounds that I could at least spot when 1.9 billion Euro was missing.


Legal vetting

The Harvard Gazette has an intriguing interview with the great constitutional lawyer Lawrence Tribe, who’s about to retire. He started as a mathematician (going to Harvard at the edge of 16) and then switched to Law. Like many young legal high-flyers, after graduation he clerked for a Supreme Court judge Potter Stewart. There’s an hilarious excerpt in the interview about this:

Q: Were you able to get to know any of the other justices besides Stewart?

A: Yes. I got to know Marshall quite well and [Earl] Warren less well. I remember a hilarious experience with [John Marshall] Harlan, in particular. In those days, the Supreme Court had its own theory that explicit sexual material could be banned if it was sufficiently hardcore, whatever that meant. Stewart famously said, ‘I can’t define hardcore pornography, but I know it when I see it.’ And I asked him once, “Have you ever seen it?” And he said, “Yes, just once, off the coast of Algiers.” (Laughs) I could never find out more than that.

We used to go to the basement of the court to watch porno flicks because the court was in a phase where it would just have to judge — thumbs up or thumbs down — either this is hardcore pornography and can be banned, or it’s not. They had no criteria. They just basically looked at the movies. Harlan was going blind, and so he had Thurgood Marshall narrate the films. “Oh, he’s doing that? You’ve got to be kidding!” That was the screening process.

Much more interesting than I expected. I can see why his students (including Barack Obama) loved him.


Quarantine diary — Day 100

Final episode!

Link