DIARY: David Bell opens lines as SEC begins sniffing around IPG's accounts

Gosh, darn, the Securities and Exchange Commission can be a bit of a troublesome nosey parker, particularly if you work at Interpublic, where accounting practices at McCann-Erickson Europe have attracted the keen attention of the US financial watchdog.

We all await the conclusions of the SEC's investigation (based on findings from several thousand internal e-mails, not to mention the odd staffer's seized computer) with bated breath. But never let it be said that IPG does not take accusations of fuzzy accounting to heart. And let no-one claim that David Bell, the holding company's newly appointed Midwestern chief executive, is not trying his darndest to make IPG's accounting squeaky clean.

Yep. It's memo time.

Bell, wishing (and needing) to come across like a man who eats, sleeps and breathes good accounting practice, has taken drastic steps to ensure that IPG's number crunching is up to scratch.

In his latest all-staff missive, he describes the group's discovery and disclosure of accounting "problems" as being a "chapter we don't ever wish to visit again".

So, what has he done to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy? Yes, that's right - he's set up the "AlertLine".

Designed to help IPG identify any dubious activities that could potentially threaten its balance sheet, the AlertLine will be used by all staff who may wish to bring to attention "financial control or internal accounting issues, legal matters, or any situation involving potentially unethical behaviour".

In addition, all of the IPG staff working for the McCann-Erickson network will have access to the "DodgyCreativeWorkLine", which they can use to tip Bell off when there is another Turkey-of-the-Week-in-waiting being finished in production.

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