(AP) Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm struggling to hold on to corporate clients, is rejecting the business of TheStreet.com because of critical comments made by one of its directors, a well-known financial commentator.
Andersen is resigning as the financial news Web site’s auditor because of comments about the accounting firm by director James Cramer, according to a filing late Tuesday by TheStreet.com with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Our resignation results from the inability of our Firm to continue to work with TheStreet.com in a cooperative manner,” Andersen executive Thomas J. Duffy wrote, in a letter included in the filing. “This has been directly caused by what we believe to be inappropriate public comments about our chief executive officer and our firm made by a member of your Board of Directors.”
Andersen objected to comments about its CEO, Joseph Berardino, that Cramer made in his role as co-host of “America Now,” a program on financial news channel CNBC, the filing said.
“Having worked with us for some time, surely Andersen could not imagine we would be willing to (or even capable of) controlling the public utterances of Mr. Cramer,” TheStreet.com Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Clarke wrote in a letter to Duffy, also included in the filing.
“We would think that Andersen, of all companies, would be particularly sensitive to the need to stand behind our professional judgments and not cave to external commercial pressures to modify them,” Clarke wrote.
The resignation by Andersen, under fire for its auditing work at Enron Corp., may have only pre-empted its dismissal by the TheStreet. In his letter, Clarke indicates his firm told Duffy on Feb. 14 it was putting its auditing account up for review and that Andersen initially indicated it would seek a renewal.
TheStreet said in its filing Tuesday that it has now selected Ernst & Young LLP as its new auditor. Executives with TheStreet and Andersen, as well as Cramer, could not be immediately reached for comment.