Howard Scheck, a Partner with StoneTurn, has more than 25 years of experience investigating public company financial reporting issues—including as the Chief Accountant in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
Howard focuses on assisting counsel representing audit committees, public companies and audit firms in investigating accounting and auditing issues arising out of SEC enforcement inquiries, whistleblower complaints and civil lawsuits, as well as in defending clients in such matters. In connection with StoneTurn engagements, Howard assists counsel with:
- Understanding the business transactions being investigated by the SEC or DOJ;
- Understanding the accounting and auditing literature related to such transactions;
- Evaluating a public company’s accounting policies and internal controls over financial reporting (and disclosure controls), including identifying deficiencies and recommending potential enhancements;
- Reviewing and analyzing relevant books and records—including identifying key financial documents and sources of relevant information;
- Interviewing accounting personnel and others with relevant financial information;
- Assessing and quantifying potential accounting errors, including evaluating quantitative and qualitative materiality factors;
- Briefing counsel, management and audit committee on accounting issues and findings;
- Interacting with the independent auditors in connection with their shadow investigation and Section 10A responsibilities;
- Developing and advising on defense strategies;
- Drafting portions of white-papers or Wells Submissions; and
- Attending meetings (or participating in calls) with the SEC Staff, including presenting findings and views on the relevant issues.
As Chief Accountant in Enforcement, Howard oversaw the Division’s accounting and auditing-related investigations. His responsibilities for these matters included advising enforcement investigation teams concerning whether:
- Whistleblower tips merited investigation;
- Public companies (and other SEC registrants) accounted for transactions in accordance with GAAP;
- Accounting errors were material;
- Deficiencies in internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls constituted violations of the securities laws;
- Financial statement footnotes and MD&A disclosures were misleading or omitted material information;
- Independent auditors adhered to PCAOB auditing standards and engaged in improper professional conduct pursuant to Rule 102(e) of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and/or violated Section 10A of the Exchange Act;
In connection with these matters, Howard worked closely with Senior Staff as to merits of defendant’s and respondent’s asserted defenses and proposed charges and settlement parameters to be recommended to the Commission. Howard also worked closely with the Office of Chief Accountant and Division of Corporation Finance on accounting and auditing enforcement recommendations.
Previously in the Division, Howard had served as a Branch Chief, Senior Counsel and Staff Attorney, where he was responsible for investigating and prosecuting violations of federal securities laws involving accounting, FCPA, insider trading, market manipulation and offering fraud.
In the private sector, he has led accounting and FCPA related investigations for audit and special committees, has assisted counsel in defending public companies, their officers, directors and auditors involved in government investigations, and has assisted companies with assessing anti-fraud and FCPA compliance programs and controls. Prior to joining StoneTurn, Howard served as a Partner in the Forensic practice of KPMG. Before becoming Chief Accountant, Howard was a Partner in the Forensic practice of Deloitte. Prior to attending law school, he worked as a Senior Corporate Accountant in the headquarters of a NYSE technology company. He began his accounting career in the audit department of Touche Ross & Co. where audited public and private companies in the financial services, insurance and technology sectors.
Howard is a Certified Public Accountant (licensed in Washington, DC and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, District of Columbia Bar and American Bar Association.
Turn to Howard
Q: Can you give an example of StoneTurn’s lean and efficient approach?
StoneTurn’s lean and efficient approach makes it easy for counsel and clients to do business with us. At the outset, our swift conflict clearing process allows us to quickly begin working on engagements. Partners with significant experience lead each engagement, and we staff our teams with professionals who have the appropriate subject matter and industry expertise. We calibrate team size based upon the circumstances, and at all stages, work as effectively and efficiently as possible for the client.
Q: StoneTurn is known for being collaborative. Describe for us how the firm is able to work so seamlessly with clients and as colleagues.
StoneTurn is able to work so seamlessly with clients and colleagues because we operate as one cohesive team, always putting the client first. For instance, regardless of how a matter comes our way, we quickly determine which Partner would best serve the client in leading the engagement and which professionals have the most relevant expertise—and then staff it accordingly. Each team receives ongoing support from other Partners and professionals, as needed, to best meet clients’ needs. By making ourselves available to consult with each other, we benefit from our diverse experiences, avoid working in silos and are able to provide clients with our best collective thinking. This collaborative approach makes StoneTurn an enjoyable place to work and enables us to foster meaningful and ongoing relationships with our clients.
Q: Every day, StoneTurn professionals help clients untangle complex problems. Can you give us an example of a great client challenge you faced and how you successfully solved it?
Many of our clients are public companies being investigated for potential accounting fraud or FCPA violations. These matters typically involve assessing complex financial reporting issues involving compliance with relevant standards, materiality and internal controls. Whether the SEC or DOJ pursues an investigation, reduces charges or declines to prosecute depends on the quality of our work. My recent experience includes successfully convincing the SEC and DOJ to end their investigations (and decline to recommend charges) against a public company being investigated for improper revenue recognition. In another matter, we were instrumental in convincing the SEC to dismiss all allegations of fraud, leaving only a minor internal control violation (with no individuals charged and no penalties). In both cases, we assisted clients in navigating the government’s evolving theories of potential liability; continually explained and convinced regulators why our investigation approach and scope was reasonable; and ultimately, despite some remaining issues, why there was no scienter and no material misstatements or omissions. Critical to StoneTurn’s success, in addition to identifying and analyzing data, has been our ability effectively summarize our findings and communicate our views to clients and the government in a clear, concise and meaningful way.