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State Controller's Review Says Bell's Auditors Did Lousy Job

Bell's interim City Manager Pedro Carrillo, left, with State Controller John Chiang in July 2010 (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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The City of Bell's financial troubles--namely the sky-high salaries of their top officials--were not unknown to their auditors, according to a review published today by State Controller John Chiang. In his quality-control review of the audits conducted by Bell's audit firm, Mayer Hoffman McCann (MHM), Chiang found that the auditor "appears to have been a rubberstamp rather than a responsible auditor committed to providing the public with the transparency and accountability that could have prevented the mismanagement of the City’s finances by Bell officials."

In Bell, as in other cities and counties, officials must have auditors review annual financial statements in order to make sure the city is able to meet its obligations, and to ensure the officials are managing the city's funds properly. In turn, a quality-control review ensures the auditors are doing their job, and complying with standards. Chiang's review of Bell's audit by MHM shows that "the firm failed to fully comply with 13 of the 17 applicable fieldwork auditing standards." MHM has audited Bell since 2006.