Riding High, KPMG Names Financial Sector Execs

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Amid dwindling faith in accounting firms, KPMG LLP has chosen a new vice chairman for its financial services group and a new director of its banking group.

It plans to announce the appointments today.

KPMG picked up three banking clients after the collapse of Big Five rival Arthur Andersen, and it counts the biggest bank client list -- 19 of the top 50 banking companies.

Joseph Mauriello has been named the vice chairman for its financial services group, succeeding Eugene D. O'Kelly, who became its chairman and chief executive officer in April. Jerry R. Licari has been named the national industry director of KPMG's banking practice, succeeding Robert F. Arning, who recently became the head partner in New York for the firm's financial services practice. Mr. Licari is based in Charlotte, N.C.

Accountants have been getting more bad press than usual this year in the wake of spectacular business failures blamed on accounting irregularities. Questions about Enron Corp.'s financial arrangements and Arthur Andersen's role as the energy trader's auditor and, more recently, WorldCom's admission that it reported inflated financial statements have raised questions about the audit process.

In an interview, Mr. Mauriello said board audit committees are responding. "There is no question there's been a refocus and a greater attention to detail," he said.

Mr. Licari added, "There is more communication with management and the boards and the outside auditors. The industry is moving in a consistent direction."

KPMG audits Citigroup Inc., Mellon Financial Corp., Bank One Corp., Wachovia Corp., and Wells Fargo & Co. among the top 20 banks. Some of those connections have existed for decades -- KMPG has been Citi's auditor, for example, since 1969, and Dudley C. …