As a result of an investigation of alleged violations of the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, Ms. Kera-Geiger with the firm of Kera & Company, LLC, entered into a settlement agreement under the Joint Ethics Enforcement Program effective May 23, 2017.
Information came to the attention of the Ethics Charging Authority (“ECA”) (comprised of the AICPA Professional Ethics Executive Committee) alleging a potential disciplinary matter with respect to Ms. Kera-Geiger’s failure to ensure her firm obtained an appropriate peer review.
The ECA reviewed the allegations in the referral and information publicly available on the United States Department of Labor’s EFAST website and Ms. Kera-Geiger’s responses to such allegations. The ECA charged Ms. Kera-Geiger with violations of the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct as follows:
Rule 203 - Accounting Principles
1. Participant loans have been improperly presented as an investment on the Statement of Net Assets Available for Benefits and in the fair value measurements note. (FASB ASC 962-310-45, FASB ASC 962-310-50)
2. Although the Statement of Net Assets Available for Benefits is comparative corresponding notes were not comparative. (FASB ASC 205-10-45)
3. The financial statements failed to make subsequent events disclosures required by FASB ASC 855.
Rule 501, Interpretation 501-5 – Failure to follow requirements of governmental bodies, commissions, or other regulatory agencies
1. As the partner responsible for her firm’s peer review compliance, Ms. Kera-Geiger failed to ensure it complied with state board requirements and those of the AICPA bylaws to undergo a peer review.
2. A separate Schedule of Assets Held was not attached to the financial statements and the information included in the notes to the financial statements to address this required information did not properly identify persons known to be a party-in-interest to the plan as required by 29 CFR 2520.103-10.
In consideration of the ECA forgoing further investigation of Ms. Kera-Geiger’s conduct as described above and in consideration of the ECA forgoing any further proceedings in the matter, Ms. Kera-Geiger agreed as follows:
a. To waive her rights to further investigation of this matter in accordance with the Joint Ethics Enforcement Program (JEEP) Manual of Procedures.
b. To waive her rights to a hearing under AICPA bylaws section 7.4.
c. To neither admit nor deny the above specified charges.
d. To her suspension from membership in the AICPA for a period of two years from the effective date of this agreement. During the period of suspension, she is prohibited from representing herself as a member of the AICPA and from using any AICPA credentials.
e. To comply immediately with professional standards applicable to the professional services she performs.
f. To complete 29 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) courses (Audits of 401(k) Plans; Auditing Defined Contribution Plans; Upcoming Peer Review: Is Your Firm Ready?) within twelve months of the effective date of this agreement and provide evidence of such completion (e.g., attendance sheets, course completion certificates, etc.).
g. To submit within 30-days after she has signed this agreement evidence that her firm has submitted an application to join the Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center. Upon membership in that Center, she agrees that her firm will comply with the directives of that Center.
h. To schedule a system peer review of your firm. The review should be scheduled through her firm’s administering entity within 60 days of the effective date of this agreement and she must submit evidence of the scheduled system review by submitting a copy of the review team approval letter issued by her firm’s administering entity. The peer review must cover a one year period that includes June 30, 2016. The period covered should be mutually agreed upon by her firm and the peer reviewer. Her firm’s accepted peer review documents will be due to the ECA within 10 months of the effective date of this agreement.
i. To be prohibited from serving as a member of any ethics or peer review committee of the AICPA until she has completed all directives in this letter. This restriction will be communicated to those responsible for appointments to such committees. In addition, if she applies to join any other committee of the AICPA she must inform those responsible for such appointments of the results of this ethics investigation.
j. To be prohibited from teaching continuing professional education courses approved by the AICPA or the state CPA societies in the areas of auditing and accounting and employee benefit plans until she has completed all of the directives included in this letter. This restriction will be communicated to those responsible for engaging CPE instructors at the AICPA.
k. To be prohibited from performing peer reviews in any capacity until the directives in this letter have been completed. This restriction will be communicated to her peer review oversight agency.
l. That the ECA shall provide a copy of this settlement agreement to the AICPA’s Peer Review Division staff, her peer review administering entities and her firm’s peer reviewer.
m. That the ECA shall publish her name, the name of her firm, the charges, and the terms of this settlement agreement.
n. That the ECA shall monitor her compliance with the terms of this settlement agreement and initiate an investigation where the ECA finds there has been noncompliance.