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Harry's impression: World’s oldest accounting book sold for US$1.2m

World’s oldest accounting book sold for US$1.2m

The oldest known book on accounting, Somma di arithmetica, geometria, proporzioni e proporzionalità, by Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli, was sold for US$1,215,000 at an auction on 12 June at Christie’s in New York. The 15th century 615-page book was published in 1494 and is renowned for its first-ever description of a double-entry bookkeeping system. The book also discusses mathematical principles such as probability theory and computing, which are important features of modern finance. According to Christie’s, the book is one of only three complete copies that have been recorded at auction in more than 50 years. Pacioli, who lived from around 1445 to 1517, was a friend of Leonardo da Vinci, and taught him mathematics.

IAASB appoints new chair

The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) appointed Thomas Seidenstein to be its new chair. Seidenstein will serve a three year term, effective 1 July, and replace Arnold Schilder, who has led the IAASB for a decade. Seidenstein is currently Senior Vice President for Strategy, Innovation and Capital Management at mortgage loan company Fannie Mae, and a former chief operating officer at the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation.

PwC debuts crypto audit software

PwC in London launched a new software tool to provide audit and assurance services to its growing number of clients holding cryptocurrencies. It will join “Halo,” its existing suite of auditing tools, and support eight crypto-currencies. The firm said the tool will offer a breakdown of its clients’ cryptocurrency treasury, and will also provide information on blockchain transactions and balances.  “It is important as companies continue to digitize we, as auditors, keep up with technology changes in the market, continue to develop audit tools that meet the needs of emerging technologies and serve the changing and developing demands of our stakeholders,” says James Chalmers, Global Assurance Leader at PwC.

ICAEW launches climate change initiative

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has launched Chapter Zero, an initiative aimed at developing board executives’ knowledge and understanding of climate change impacts for companies, in order to ensure informed decision-making on climate risk in boardrooms. The announcement, made on 24 June, launched as part of the World Economic Forum’s Climate Governance Initiative. Chapter Zero will hold briefings, conferences, workshops and roundtables on climate change as part of its work with directors. “Chapter Zero will help ensure that the climate emergency is front of mind when boards make their decisions and that it is not just left as an agenda item,” said Chief Executive of ICAEW Michael Izza.

Deutsche Bank investigated over money laundering claims

Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt is being probed by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation on whether it had fully complied with laws prohibiting money laundering. The inquiry is related to suspicious financial transactions linked to companies controlled by U.S. President Donald Trump and his son-in-law advisor Jared Kushner. The transactions took place from 2016 and 2017 and were discovered by bank employees, though none informed their superiors about the issue. The bank also did not report them to government authorities. Deutsche Bank has long been under scrutiny for its lax lending standards, as well as its willingness to do business with Trump when most other banks refused to work with him because of his financial troubles. Both Donald Trump and Jared Kushner’s real estate company Kushner Companies have denied the allegations so far.

World of number



The percentage of finance professionals in Asia Pacific who believe their jobs will change substantially over the next decade as a result of artificial intelligence and other technologies, according to a poll by CFA Institute.


The IPO ranking of Hong Kong’s stock market for the first half of this year, according to Deloitte China’s National Public Offering Group. It notes that factors such as political uncertainty and the United States-China trade war have caused macroeconomic turbulence. In first place is the New York Stock Exchange, followed by the Nasdaq in second, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange in fourth.

1 in 4

The individuals working in finance or insurance who cite gender pay gap as the biggest issue at their workplace, according to a survey of 1,600 people across the United Kingdom and the United States, by compensation management provider Beqom. Of those surveyed, 15 percent further deemed that their employer was not taking any steps to address this gap.


The big four

Thomson Reuters to acquire Confirmation

Thomson Reuters signed a deal on 21 June to acquire Confirmation, a leading provider of secure audit confirmation services. The acquisition will strengthen the company’s offerings to its core tax, accounting and audit customers, according to Thomson Reuters’ Chief Executive Officer Jim Smith. He added: “We will continue to invest in solutions that help our customers automate tasks in their daily workflow. The Confirmation acquisition fits that objective.” Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, and the deal is still subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. Brian Fox, President and Founder of Confirmation, will join Thomson Reuters in an executive role once the deal is complete.

London-Shanghai stock connect launches

The long-awaited London-Shanghai Stock Connect went live on 26 June, allowing companies listed in the United Kingdom and Mainland China to raise capital on each other’s stock market. Under the new link, U.K.-listed companies are the first foreign companies able to list in the Mainland. The move is seen as a major step for Beijing in opening up its capital markets. One of China’s largest brokerages, Huatai Securities, debuted on the London Stock Exchange, becoming the first company to sell through the new link. The scheme differs from the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, as the London scheme is limited to trading in depository receipts rather than direct trade in company shares.

Fiverr goes public

Online freelance platform Fiverr got off to a strong start with its initial public offering on 13 June. It opened at US$26 per share, higher than their initial pricing at US$18 to US$20, giving the company a valuation of US$650 million. Fiverr is the latest “gig-economy” company to go public, which connects freelancers with clients with jobs starting from US$5. Its listing success follows the shortcomings of IPOs for similar gig-economy companies such as Uber and Lyft. Shares of Uber fell more than 6 percent below its IPO pricing, while shares of Lyft dropped nearly 19 percent that same week. “We are on the path to profitability. That’s the balance we’re trying to keep – focusing on growth while building a business that would be profitable in the long term,” said Fiverr’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer Micha Kaufman.

Shakira in court over tax fraud allegations

Colombian pop singer Shakira appeared in a Spanish court in Barcelona on 6 June to answer to tax fraud charges. Prosecutors allege that the 42-year-old avoided paying €14.5 million in taxes by claiming to live in the Bahamas when she was a resident in Catalonia between 2012 to 2014. They also say she should have paid tax in Spain on her worldwide income for those years, adding that she was resident in Spain for most of the year, and only travelled abroad for short periods. Her defence team argued that until 2014 she earned most of her money in international tours and did not live more than six months a year in Spain – and was therefore not a resident under tax law. Her press team released a statement saying the artist was innocent, that “there is currently no debt,” and that she had paid everything claimed by tax authorities. She denies all charges.

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June 2019 issue
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