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“At Grant Thornton, we are committed to delivering the highest quality audits to our clients,” said Mike McGuire, CEO of Grant Thornton. “Chris, Ann and Seth bring more than 75 years of combined professional services experience to our council and we look forward to working alongside them to strengthen our position as a leader in the profession for quality. This group will, in turn, help make our firm the auditor of choice for companies committed to excellence.”

Mandaleris, a retired Ernst & Young LLP Audit partner, joins the Audit Quality Advisory Council after having spent 25 years working in EY’s Audit practice and having helped open the firm’s Greensboro, North Carolina office.

Most recently, he was the senior deputy director in the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) inspections division. After 13 years with the PCAOB, Mandaleris retired in 2016 and dedicated his time to serving the Greek Orthodox Church in the southeast as a volunteer strategy, governance and internal control advisor. He is a certified public accountant (CPA) in Alabama and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Yerger joins Grant Thornton’s council after spending the past 20 years at the Council of Institutional Investors, where she served as the executive director. She has also served as the executive director of EY’s Center for Board Matters, as a member of the PCAOB’s Investor Advisory Group, and as a member of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee. She also served on the U.S. Treasury Department’s Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession. Yerger is currently a member of Spencer Stuart’s North American Board Practices and is an independent director of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, where she chairs the nominating and governance committee and serves as a member of its compensation committee.

Siegel, who serves as an Audit partner and as Grant Thornton’s Florida Audit practice leader, will function as the council’s Partnership Board representative. He joined the firm in 1996 and has more than 20 years of public accounting and corporate finance experience. He provides services to both publicly-traded and privately-held entities with a focus on companies in a variety of industries, including financial services, private equity, real estate, hospitality and energy. Siegel is a CPA in Florida and a member of the Florida Institute of CPAs and the AICPA.

Jeff Burgess, national managing partner of Audit Services at Grant Thornton, sums up the additions of Mandaleris, Yerger and Siegel by saying this: “These new members not only reaffirm our focus on quality above all else, but the council itself complements Grant Thornton’s approach to providing the audit of the future, which is built around innovation and quality.”

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organisations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton, which has revenues in excess of $1.8 billion and operates 58 offices, works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organisations.

“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions. Please see grantthornton.com for further details.

Cryptocurrencies continue to surprise us with their behavior through the years. Amidst all the instability and unpredictability in terms of performance, trading, litigation, regulation, and taxation, miners and investors brave the odds and explore what these cryptocurrencies have to offer. Pessimists and optimists alike have much to say about the future of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin – such as bitcoin’s supposed nearing end because of the consistent drop in bitcoin price after reaching its peak. But it’s more viable to focus on observable trends in order to have an idea on what to expect as far as these cryptocurrencies are concerned. Here are some of them. The Market

The word “bubble” is thrown around in the finance world, and if you’re wondering what it means, it is simply the cycle created by the fast escalation of asset prices followed by a contraction. The bubble deflates when investors cease to buy at elevated prices and massive sell-offs occur. As for bitcoin, yes it is a bubble, and it indeed popped. The market is expected to calm down a bit after the Crypto bubble and cryptocurrency trading will remain profitable. Cryptocurrency as Payment

Retailers are starting to accept cryptocurrency as payment. At this point in time, including cryptocurrency in the list of payment methods can potentially boost income, in the same way that establishments that accept credit cards do have a wider reach than those who do not. Now you can book flights, purchase household goods, get web domains, buy computer products, and so much more with bitcoin. As of December 2018, more travel services, web services, food, and general merchandise have started to accept bitcoin payments. Those with a Microsoft account, for example, have the “Redeem Bitcoin” option upon checkout and can add up to $100 at a time via Bitpay. Cybersecurity

The blockchain industry has always been associated with cryptocurrency, and in 2019, it is expected to work on its image as an industry that has a lot more to offer. If the industry wants to operate on a larger scale, it needs to be communicated that the blockchain technology has a lot of uses that are unrelated to cryptocurrency. Taxation and Regulation

2019 is set to be the year of more widespread, formal, and international crypto regulation. In cryptocurrency news this year, Malta became the first country to have a clear regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. Countries such as Russia and India have also begun to draft national legislation for cryptocurrencies; and we expect other countries to follow suit – giving way for cryptocurrency to become more legitimate. Preventing money laundering, fraud, and terrorist funding is a prime motivation in putting these regulations in place. If cryptocurrencies are safely policed, more and more people will be confident to use and adopt them.

In Hungary basically we can differentiate three different forms of settling legal disputes in connection with construction and design contracts. These possible claim enforcements are as follows: out of court dispute settlements (reconciliation between the parties in front of Dispute Adjudication Boards /DAB/, or via payment order procedure), in front of an ordinary state court via civil lawsuit, or in front of Hungarian or international arbitration courts.

From the above mentioned opportunities the possibility of claim enforcement in front of ordinary courts is open in all cases, whereas the contract is signed upon Hungarian law. Currently in Hungary there is one Arbitration Court attached to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce. In so far as the contracting parties would like to use this or the international arbitration court in the settling of their dispute based upon a contract signed, according to Hungarian law, in a way that they put down this intention of theirs either in the contract or at latest in a written agreement at the development of their legal dispute. One of the greatest advantages of the Arbitration Court functioning beside the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce is that each of the parties can delegate an arbitrator from the list of arbitrators to the board of arbitrators and the two delegated arbitrators will choose the third member of the board of arbitrators who is also the President. An additional advantage is that the procedure of the arbitration court is quicker than the procedure of the ordinary state court, as cases usually finish within a few months in front of these arbitration courts, whereas in front of state courts – where the procedure is in two instances – in certain cases the procedure can last for years and sometimes the revision of the Supreme Court may be requested. In case of the constraint of the arbitration court according to Hungarian law, there is a possibility of the procedure in front of ordinary state courts, only the statement of invalidation of the verdict of the arbitration court can be required, as long as the verdict of the arbitration court.

In Hungary most of the construction lawsuits can last up to several years in front of ordinary courts, as long as the parties receive the final and definitive sentence. With regard to this fact in certain nominated cases (where the occurrence of the completion or its certification is disputable, or the completion is not disputable but payment has not been carried out, or there is a dispute in connection with the financial guarantees – mortgage, bank guarantee etc. – ensuring employer payment) there is an opportunity to turn to the Completion Validation Expert Organization attached to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce since 2013, which can issue an expert opinion within 60 days upon request. As long as any of the parties do not agree with the expert report, there is a possibility to turn to court within 60 days following receipt of the expert report, and the court should have an accelerated procedure taken into consideration the report of the Completion Validation Expert Organization in a way as it would have been made by a forensic expert delegated by the court. These legal procedures last definitely shorter than other legal procedures in construction cases.

There is an opportunity to settle disputes out of court. It can be an agreement between the contracting parties, a written agreement, but in case of the consent of the contracting parties, even third parties, organizations dealing with out of court legal disputes or persons can be involved. In the latter case for instance a mediator can facilitate the settlement between the parties, or the conciliatory body beside the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, but the decision of the latter can only be mandatory for the parties if they assumed it in writing at the beginning of the procedure to subject themselves to the decision of the conciliatory body. In connection with out of court dispute procedure it should be mentioned that as far as the parties accepted the application of one of the FIDIC-contract samples as they are to proceed according to the dispute settling rules included in it. In this regard we are only referring to the role of Dispute Adjudication Board.

An order for payment in front of a notary public has a special temporary character between out of court and litigation dispute. Except for certain cases, this procedure shall start in cases where the claim does not exceed HUF 3,000,000 (EUR 9,800). This procedure cannot be started if the amount of the claim is over HUF 30,000,000 (approx. EUR 98,000). You can initiate this procedure electronically in which the formal but not the substantive checking of the claim, the notary public releases a payment notice for the person indicated as the debtor in order to accomplish his payment obligation within 15 days, or if he does not agree with the claim to initiate a protest within 15 days at the notary public. In the case of the protest of the debtor, the creditor can initiate a civil law suit within 15 days in front of the competent court, thus the out of court procedure will be transferred to court procedure.

Professional services firm Kier Group has seen its CEO step down with immediate effect, following a coup in the construction company’s boardroom. Haydn Mursell, an accountant who began his career with KPMG, has been ousted as the company looks to commence a new era of growth, amid a UK construction sector that has struggled in the last year.

Amid the chaos which ensued, Capita saw its share value slump repeatedly, while the first quarter of the year saw Serco suffer a 3.9% fall, alongside G4S (-1.1%) and Interserve (-1.9%). This was particularly unhelpful for the beleaguered Interserve, as the group – also best known for its work in construction – was already grappling with poor trading and climbing costs. Kier was also impacted, and the first quarter saw a similar -1.3% fall.

The infrastructure services, buildings and developments and housing group bounced back after that, however. Recent key contract awards included the renewal of a three-year £70 million utility services deal in the South West and being appointed to three lots on the North West Construction Hub three-year £1.5 billion framework. More than £500 million of regional building projects were also secured during November and December, such as a major office development for Argent at King’s Cross in London, a research facility for the Pirbright Institute in Surrey, and a new hospital for Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.

A chartered accountant, Mursell commenced his career with KPMG in 1995, before working at Bovis Lend Lease and then moving to the construction sector firm Balfour Beatty. He joined Kier in 2010, initially as Group Finance Director, before being confirmed as CEO just two months later. During his time in the role, he took on operational responsibility for the company’s property division.

With his exit from the firm, Kier has commenced the search for its new CEO, in a bid to steer the company into a fresh era of growth. Until this search is completed, Chairman Philip Cox will act as Executive Chair on an interim basis, working closely with the Chief Operating Officer Claudio Veritiero. They will jointly oversee operations for the time being.

Commenting on the move, Cox said, “The board believes that, following the completion of the recent rights issue, now is the right time for a new leader to take Kier forward to the next stage of its development. The board would like to thank Haydn for his contribution during eight years, firstly as finance director and then as Chief Executive.”