I specifically told them that I was keeping the letter confidential and that they should do the same. This was explicitly a speculative letter. Moreover if the speculations were right then the company in question was controlled by criminal elements. However there was a reasonable chance that I was wrong - and so general publication - especially on this blog - was not reasonable.
Deloitte did not honor that request for confidentiality. I received this letter from Sarah Simpson, Associate General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel:
Dear Mr Hempton
We have received your letter in which you questioned certain accounting for inventory, cash and gross margins at [company name deleted]. Since the management of the Company is responsible for preparing the company's financial statements and accurately recording transactions, we believe the questions raised in your letter should be addressed to management of the Company. Accordingly, we have forwarded a copy of your email to management and the Audit Committee of the Company. Whilst we appreciate receiving your inquiry about the Company we are precluded by professional standards from discussing client matters with anyone outside the Company. Accordingly, we will will not be able to respond directly to the questions in your email
I wrote to Ms Simpson and asked whether blowing the cover of anonymous whistleblowers was standard practice.
I was the person who wrote the letter that caused Longtop Financial Technology to implode - a major failing for Deloitte. I have previously written partially defending Deloitte for that mistake. Maybe I was too generous.
If Deloitte has integrity I suggest that they get an external partner to review the audit of the company in question. [They know what company it is...]
Normally I do not bother wasting my time with class-action lawyers. Lousy ambulance chasers in the securities arena - a wart on the capital markets. But not as much a wart as audit firms.
If and when this company blows (and it is by no means assured) up I will consider it my "professional duty" to cause Deloitte as much difficulty re this audit as possible. My material (and it is extensive) will be passed to class action lawyers and I will gratis testify against Deloitte.
Indeed I look forward to it. I also look forward to the apology from Ms Simpson's managers vis her indiscretion.
Post script: there are several people (including Professor Gillis) who think the auditor did what was legally required of them. My experience is that the letter I received from Deloitte is unusual - but if that is what is required of auditors I will never write to the auditor using my own name again (though I will use disclosed fake ones).
I will also - just to add insult to auditor injury - write a copy to a friendly securities class action lawyer - who will then have a leg-up on any cases - and who I suspect will treat the letter with the confidentiality it deserves - at least until confidentiality can be broken.
Anyone want to be the friendly securities class action lawyer?