Accounting News Roundup: Will the Real Arthur Andersen Please Stand Up? | 03.03.17

By | 3 months ago

Arthur Andersen

On Wednesday of this week, a post by Stéphane Laffont-Réveilhac appeared on LinkedIn entitled: “Arthur Andersen restarts with 26 offices in 16 countries on 5 continents.” Laffont-Réveilhac is identified as the “Global Managing Partner” in the byline, but the post reads more like a press release.

As from the 1st of March 2017, it is a reality: Arthur Andersen is reconstituted, with 26 offices on 5 continents and in 16 Countries.

Arthur Andersen encompasses offices in the following countries & states: United States of America (Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco), Europe (Cyprus, France, Greece), India, Brazil, the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar), Egypt, Indonesia and Nepal.

Discussions are underway for setting up offices in China, Canada, Australia, Israel, Russia and in a number of countries in the European Union, Asia and South America.

This announcement got some press in France, but little attention elsewhere and some of you might be wondering, “Didn’t Andersen claim to be back a couple of years ago?” And yes, your memory serves you well. WTAS resurrected “Andersen” to become “Andersen Tax” back in 2014. At the time, Mark Vorsatz, the CEO of Andersen Tax told Bloomberg that his firm had “paid a sum he declined to disclose for the rights to the Andersen name.”

But here’s an odd thing that appears in that LinkedIn post:

“Our firm is the rightful holder of the ‘ARTHUR ANDERSEN’ and ‘ANDERSEN’ historical trademarks, logos, visuals and slogans at a global level and are systematically instituting all legal initiatives necessary to defend our network and secure its development”, explains Carlo Brusa, Partner, Spokesperson and Pilot of the Project.

The funny thing is, this new Andersen doesn’t seem to have anything to do with old new Andersen (i.e. Andersen Tax). Check out what Vorsatz told Accounting Today:

“They are not affiliated and do not have any rights to the name,” said Andersen Tax CEO Mark Vorsatz in an email Thursday. “We purchased the rights to the Andersen brand in the U.S. and worldwide and have filed trademarks in over 50 jurisdictions. We have filed an action against them in France to require that they cease and desist use of the name. Also, to the best of our knowledge, they have no viable business in any locations.”

According to Oscar Alcantara, the general counsel for the old new Andersen, this new new Andersen is a bunch of poseurs:

Alcantara believes Andersen Tax represents the Arthur Andersen name and legacy better than the other firm, which he believes only has one former Andersen alumnus in it.

“On our side of the table what we have is a large group of people who truly represent the legacy of Arthur Andersen, individuals who had been with the organization for decades and who truly bear the goodwill of that culture,” he said. “We also have acquired the intellectual property rights of that entity in the form of trademarks and copyrights from Arthur Andersen LLP, as well as trademarks acquired from the former IP holding company of Andersen Worldwide. That’s what we have on our side of the table. On the other side there has been, I think, some discussion about one of the principals who worked as a lawyer in one of the offices. She was not a partner and didn’t have an ownership interest, so to speak, in any Arthur Andersen entity or office. While I’m sure she enjoyed her employment at that Arthur Andersen firm, I think it is very difficult for her to claim that she carries the legacy of that worldwide entity.

Oh, brother. I get that it’s a little strange for this new Arthur Andersen to pop out of nowhere and claim that they’re the real deal, but let’s not forget that it was pretty weird for a firm to pull the ol’ Lazarus on a tarnished name like Arthur Andersen to begin with.

Anyway, Laffont-Réveilhac didn’t respond to AT’s requests for comment and the Andersen Tax people that have looked into it have only found “that the offices in question are like co-op office space, maybe a phone number and a mailbox.”  This whole story is equal parts fascinating and baffling.

Caterpillar

There was quite a bit of noise yesterday about federal agents raiding Caterpillar over its offshore tax practices. And guess which accounting firm helped them with those offshore practices?

The report of the 2014 investigation said that Caterpillar, which makes heavy construction and mining equipment, worked with the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, now PwC, to use sham transactions to transfer $8 billion in profits to a Swiss subsidiary from 1999 to 2012.

Sorta related: Octavia Spencer on Oscars accountant: ‘I really said some prayers for him’.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Megan Lewczyk wrote about the Banking of Things. In Open Items, someone wonders about internal audit under a Trump administration.

In other news:

Get the Accounting News Roundup in your inbox every weekday by signing up here.

Tags