Howard Scheck, a Partner with StoneTurn, has more than 25 years of experience investigating public company financial reporting issues—including as Chief Accountant in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
Howard specializes in assisting counsel with:
- Accounting investigations—GAAP and FCPA;
- Accounting defense—companies and individuals; and
- Auditing defense—audit firms and engagement team members;
Howard has significant experience handling matters involving SEC and DOJ enforcement inquiries, internal investigations and civil lawsuits. Specific areas in which he assists counsel include:
- Investigating allegations of accounting errors or irregularities;
- Evaluating potential violations of PCAOB auditing standards;
- Consulting on defense strategies in accounting and auditing matters;
- Providing expert views and submissions to the SEC and DOJ;
- Testifying on accounting, auditing and internal controls issues; and
- Evaluating, testing and recommending enhancements to internal controls;
As Chief Accountant, Howard led 100 accountants across the U.S. (35 direct reports in D.C. and 65 in the SEC’s regional offices) in investigating the Division’s accounting and auditing-related investigations. His experience spans a wide-range of financial reporting issues, including revenue recognition, expense recognition, earnings management and asset valuation. Entities he has investigated have included banks and broker-dealers as well as energy, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, software and retail companies. Howard’s responsibilities in connection with these matters included assessing evidence and advising enforcement teams about the:
- SEC registrant’s compliance with accounting standards and disclosure requirements;
- Severity of deficiencies in internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls; and
- Independent auditors’ compliance with PCAOB auditing standards, Rule 102(e) and Section 10A;
Howard worked closely with the Office of Market Intelligence in assessing the merits of accounting and auditing-related whistleblower tips and with investigation teams and Senior Staff concerning all aspects of conducting accounting investigations, evaluating Wells submissions and formulating recommendations to the Commission. He worked closely with the Office of Chief Accountant and Division of Corporation Finance on accounting and auditing enforcement recommendations (as well as with the PCAOB), and with the Division of Investment Management on financial reporting issues involving investment advisers and funds.
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, offering fraud and Investment Company Act of 1940 issues.
In the private sector, Howard has led accounting and FCPA-related investigations for audit and special committees, and he has assisted counsel in defending public companies, their officers, directors and auditors in government investigations. He has also assisted companies with assessing antifraud and FCPA compliance programs—including for SEC / DOJ Monitors.
Prior to joining StoneTurn, Howard served as a Partner in the Forensic practice of KPMG. Howard was also a Partner in the forensic practice of Deloitte before returning to the SEC as Chief Accountant. He began his accounting career in the audit department of Touche Ross where he audited public and private companies in the financial services, insurance and technology sectors, including many publicly traded investment companies. Prior to attending law school, he worked as a Senior Corporate Accountant in the headquarters of a NYSE technology company.
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, and a member of District of Columbia Bar and American Bar Association.
SEC Enforcement Trends
Howard Scheck, Partner with StoneTurn in Washington, DC, provides an overview of SEC Enforcement Trends, including the importance of data integrity, a heightened focus on investigations and enforcement actions, and an increased emphasis on disclosures. He explains how companies can benefit from conducting frequent risk assessments to prevent and detect issues before they arise.
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.