Accounting firm BDO Seidman LLP released documents yesterday that showed that William H Webster had fired it as the auditor of US Technologies after the firm warned him about financial problems at the company, newspapers reported.
Webster, who has been named by the US Securities and Exchange Commission to head a new board overseeing the accounting industry, has said he has no recollection of being told of any significant accounting problems before US Technologies dismissed Seidman in August 2001.
“The inference is that we replaced the auditor because they were issuing warnings. That's totally incorrect – we just couldn't afford them,” the Wall Street Journal cited Webster as saying in a recent interview.
“I'm at a loss, frankly. No one was intending to quarrel over what was discussed. I do not recall anything being said in the conversation on July 13 about deficiencies the auditor found at the company,” he said.
A few hours after the documents were released, US President George Bush, at a wide-ranging news conference yesterday afternoon, urged that people not rush to judge Webster, the New York Times reported.
Bush said he was awaiting the outcome of an SEC examination of Webster's work as the chairman of the audit committee for the company.
Seidman said it released an edited version of its notes after receiving permission from US Technologies. The notes were made during a July 13, 2001, telephone conference of the company's audit committee.
Seidman sued US Technologies last week seeking permission to disclose the material and accusing Webster of making “false and misleading statements” about why it was dismissed.