John Riordan, KPMGKPMG has agreed to pay more than $6 million in disgorgement, interest and civil money penalties for its role in the audit of a now bankrupt energy business. The Securities and Exchange Commission also slammed the firm for utilizing a partner with no experience with oil and gas companies given the high risk of its work with the former Miller Energy.

Moreover, the SEC censured KPMG and suspended John Riordan, the managing partner of the firm's Knoxville, Tenn.-office, from practicing before it for at least two years. Riordan is a member of KPMG's Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice, and has held his title since 2013.

The SEC reports says the auditors accepted Miller's valuation of $480 million in assets, including, $368 million for oil and gas properties, even though the energy company paid $2.25 million in cash and assumed liabilities of $2.2 million when it acquired the energy properties on Dec. 10, 2009. Miller was the only bidder in an auction to buy the assets through the bankruptcy court.

Miller also double counted some assets leading to its valuation of $110 million in fixed assets, replying on a previous insurance report in formulating the values.

As a result of its valuations, however, Miller recorded a one-time, after-tax bargain purchase gain of $277 million. The Alaskan assets were comprised by leases covering 602,000 acres of mostly unproven exploratory oil and gas prospects, along with five operating oil and gas wells.

Despite the history, KPMG failed to review Miller's public bankruptcy records. If it had done so, the firm "would have learned that their understanding of the facts leading to the acquisition was inaccurate", the SEC wrote. It noted the firm should have considered the lack of experience in the oil and gas industry on the part of Miller's CEO and CFO.

The SEC assessed KPMG with disgorgement of $4,675,680 in fees earned for its work with Miller, $558,319 in pre-judgment interest and a $1-million civil money penalty. It gave Riordan a $25,000 civil money penalty.

KPMG is also required to conduct and report on an extensive review of policies and practices. The firm has agreed to hire an independent consultant for the review and provide training to its staff.

Last modified on Friday, 18 August 2017
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