December 15, 2018

BUSTED: Which NYC Firm’s Former Partner Is Accused of Ripping Off $2 Million From Investors?

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A CPA and former partner-in-charge of advisory services at New York City-based Marks Paneth LLP was arrested by federal authorities in Florida on Oct. 8 for allegedly bilking investors out of $2 million through an intellectual property scheme.

Steven Henning, Ph.D., 57, was charged with one count of wire fraud in a federal court in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 9. He was arrested on Monday afternoon in St. Johns, Fla.

While the complaint states that Henning “was a managing partner at an accounting firm in Manhattan,” Law360 reported that accounting firm was Marks Paneth.

Corin Huff, marketing communications manager for Marks Paneth, confirmed to Going Concern in an email that Henning was a former employee of the firm, but she added that “Mr. Harding was never the managing partner of Marks Paneth LLP and has not been employed by the firm for over a year.”

“The actions alleged in the government’s complaint are not related to the business of the accounting firm. Marks Paneth LLP has been and continues to cooperate with the government’s investigation,” she added.

A now-deleted bio of Henning on Marks Paneth’s website said that he was partner-in-charge of advisory services and served on the firm’s executive committee. An executive bio on Bloomberg shows that Henning had served as partner-in-charge of advisory since Jan. 1, 2016. He previously served as an accounting professor for several years at the University of Colorado and at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

While employed at the accounting firm, Henning formed OpportunIP in June 2008, which he allegedly told investors “was a company specializing in assisting other entities in taking intellectual property to the market,” Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

“Henning allegedly induced victims to invest in OpportunIP by providing them with false documents showing OpportunIP’s involvement in multi-million dollar transactions that would reap millions of dollars in future profits. Ultimately, the victims learned that the deals did not exist and they were victims of an alleged scheme to defraud them out of millions of dollars.”

U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector-in-Charge Philip Bartlett called Henning’s claims “nothing more than a bag of lies.”

The complaint states that OpportunIP had, at different times, offices in Purchase and Terrytown, N.Y. Henning was the CEO and “owned an interest in OpportunIP through an entity known as the Henning Family Partnership. Members of the accounting firm also owned interests in OpportunIP.”

Wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

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Grant Thornton to Close Greensboro, NC Office

We’ve received multiple tips informing us that Grant Thornton’s Greensboro, North Carolina office will be closing in the spring after busy season has ended.

Greensboro has approximately 35 professionals in all three service lines although our sources indicate that many tax professionals were laid off late last year in anticipation of the closure. Greensboro currently functions as a satellite of the Charlotte office which houses the support professionals.

What’s not known at this time is whether the office will become virtual, similar to the setup that Ernst & Young arranged for its Greensboro office other whether it will be an outright closure.

We contacted Grant Thornton for comment and had not heard back from them at the time of this posting.

If you’re familiar with the situation in Greensboro and have more information, get in touch with us. We’ll continue to keep you updated as we learn more.

Dita von Teese’s Accountant Understands Why She Has to Spend $70k on a Dress

Last month we mentioned that while we enjoy her genius, we wouldn’t want to be of Lady Gaga’s accountant. She definitely falls into the “clients that make you want to jump out the window” bucket.

Likewise, if we had our choice of clients, we wouldn’t be chasing down burlesque artists that marry rock stars, in this case, Dita von Teese. Not because we don’t enjoy burlesque artists and the rock stars they love, quite the contrary actually; it’s just seems that the headaches associated with such a client would be more trouble than it would be worth.

Surprisingly, DVT takes money quite seriously and is not as slipshod as you might expect.

I refuse to go to the hair salon and have a $300 hair dye job – I do it myself at home with an $8 dye kit… I’ve always been a saver…I saved at least 15[%] of everything I earned and invested it in mutual funds

Jesus, talk about sensible. However there is this glimmer:

I think nothing of spending $8,000 on a corset for my show. My accountant once said he couldn’t understand how I spent $70,000 on a single dress but then he came to my show and saw how lavish it was and told me afterwards that now he understood.

Those are work related expenses though; count us unimpressed. We’re expecting Gaga-esque negligent wasting of money. Like seriously getting carried away.

I bought [a Jaguar] one night on eBay for $35,000 when I’d had too much champagne.

Yes. That’s the best she can offer. Plus, there’s this:

I pay my [credit card] balances off every month.”

More sensible behavior. Doesn’t sound like she’d be that bad of a client at all. Hell, she probably even keeps all her receipts. L. Gaga’s accountant might consider asking her for some advice.

Dita von Teese: ‘I spent $70,000 on a single dress for my show’ [Telegraph]