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EY’s US general counsel resigns

EY’s US general counsel resigns

 


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EY’s US general counsel has resigned after two years in the role, as the company nears the conclusion of an investigation into its failure to properly handle a staff cheating scandal.

Ann Cook will leave the business on August 1, the partners announced.

His resignation comes amid scrutiny of the actions of the attorney general’s office in 2019, when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into allegations of widespread cheating on educational exams, including ethics tests.

EY US paid $100 million last year to settle SEC charges related to cheating itself as well as claims the company misled the regulator by not disclosing new evidence from an internal whistleblower. The fine was double that imposed on KPMG, which had its own cheating scandal.

As part of the settlement, EY was forced to appoint an independent investigator to look into the actions of lead attorneys, EY executives and compliance staff related to the disclosure failure.

Cook served as assistant general counsel for litigation and regulatory affairs in 2019, before being promoted to general counsel in 2021.

Cook did not respond to messages seeking comment and EY declined to give a reason for his resignation.

We wish Ann good luck in the next chapter, the company said. She has been a valued member of the EY leadership team, and we thank her for her many positive contributions over the years.

The Financial Times reported in April that the independent investigator had more time to complete his report, which was originally due to be completed in November. Cook tendered his resignation earlier this month, days after the report was submitted.

EY has 60 days from the report’s completion to act on its recommendations, which it cannot appeal. The report need only be shared with a special committee of three EY executives set up to handle the case, as well as US Chairman Julie Boland, although the SEC must be made aware of EY’s response.

The settlement proved controversial last year when an SEC commissioner, Hester Peirce, argued that EY had no obligation to disclose the whistleblower’s complaint. She criticized the appointment of an independent investigator with an implied directive to find lawyers and compliance staff to blame for failing to comply with a non-existent duty and unquestionable authority to discipline or fire any EY staff involved.

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