November 19, 2018

Bankruptcy

Off-Balance Sheet Liabilities: Still Got It!

If you were worried that the heyday of companies using accounting rules to stash gazillions of dollars in debt out of sight was over, you can rest easy, friend. The Wall Street Journal reports on a Moody’s analysis by Trevor Pijper that found that defunct U.K. contractor Carillion used loose rules to keep about half a […]

Stockton, California’s Lousy Accounting, Incompetence Made Up for Its Lack of Corruption

"Stockton is not Bell — we found no evidence that corruption and self-dealing drove this city into insolvency," [state Controller John] Chiang said in a statement, referring to the Los Angeles suburb whose municipal leaders looted millions of dollars from its treasury. "Instead," Chiang wrote, "many of Stockton's problems can be tracked to poor decision-making that was […]

It’s Difficult to Pinpoint Exactly Why Life Partners Fired Their CFO After He Was on the Job for 11 Days

Life Partners Holdings hired Scott Dubs as its CFO on August 20, 2012. Life Partners Holdings fired Scott Dubs on August 31, 2012. That length of tenure is so short that Dubs probably didn't have enough time to settle on a favorite stall in the mens room. Of course, for a company to fire a […]

Dewey Think an Accounting Firm Could Go Bankrupt?

Michael Cohn over at Accounting Today wonders if an accounting firm could suffer the same fate as recently departed global law firm Dewey & Leboeuf. It's a question worth asking since the entity structures for both accounting and law firms are similar and mergers are common in both industries. But really, it's not as likely (although not […]

Look, You Guys, You Should Really Be Thankful for Enron’s Bankruptcy

One of the first things I saw this morning in my Twitter feed was this missive from one of the Grumpy Old Accountants, Ed Ketz:


Now, I don’t know Professor Ketz personally, but my highly acute sarcasm detector is going batshit crazy. Less subtly, MACPA Editor Bill Sheridan gives us the timeline of the events that transpired starting with Enron’s filing. Bill gets a little weepy about the whole affair, writing:

Remember how utterly chaotic that time was? News that shook CPAs to the core surfaced almost daily, and the next day brought even worse news.

Okay, I was in college when Enron went bankrupt so I don’t remember things being “chaotic” unless you count the whole “9/11 was less than 3 months ago” thing. What I do remember was an Andersen partner who came to campus for our Accounting Society meeting (BAP didn’t have a chapter at my school) alone and he didn’t really seem to know anything more than what I imagine was being reported in the news and our faculty advisor noticed it too. So for him and his fellow partners, yes, things were probably royally sucking. And yes, things did get worse when Andersen was convicted* of obstruction of justice, surrendered their state licenses and closed up shop.

So maybe all that stuff is bad. Maybe it’s really fucking bad and it causes people to cringe to think about it but even Bill sees the upside:

You could argue that the profession is better off because of it. We took our lumps, rolled with the punches, and emerged on the far side stronger and more trustworthy than ever. “That which doesn’t kill you,” etc., etc. Still, I’m not in any rush to go through something like that again. Are you?

Jesus. Can we quit acting like Enron is still a big deal? Lehman Brothers was the size of ten Enrons. TEN. And Ernst & Young, no matter what happens, looks like idiots and continues to claim that they bear no responsibility and everything is still hunky dory. Andersen got off easy. Enron went bankrupt. The firm got fired. And fired again. And again. Then the firm died. The end. Their partners and employees moved on and everything was cool. I mean seriously, even C.E. Andrews got another job. If Ernst & Young continues on, they’ll have this hanging over them until something worse happens. Enjoy that.

But back to Enron. Thanks to Enron, we got Sarbanes-Oxley. We got The Smartest Guys in the Room. And we got that awesome Heineken ad. If you think about it, lots of you probably got your job thanks to Enron. Which means you probably owe your house, your spouse, your dog and a whole bunch of other shit to Enron too. You should be thanking your lucky stars that Jeff Skilling was such a ballsy mark-to-market wizard.

And yet people choose to remember it as, “That one time where we almost DIED!” And the mainstream press, in its blissful accounting ignorance, loves to dig it up in every article that is remotely accounting related.

I don’t know about you all but I’ve moved on. Enron was this bad thing that happened to the accounting profession but other bad things have happened – far worse things – and other equally bad things will happen. Maybe if people had learned something the last ten years and tried to do things better instead of maintaining the status quo, there wouldn’t be a French guy busting your chops. Here’s to the next 100 years. Thanks, Enron.

*SCOTUS overturned the conviction on a technicality (apparently an important one) but that doesn’t bring the firm back now, does it?

KPMG Finds Half of That MF Global Client Money; Still Not Making Any Promises

After apologizing for the slow pace, it appears the House of Klynveld has upped their game.

“We have so far collected about a half of the approximate $1 billion outstanding but it is hard to speculate on the final amount given we are dependent on third parties,” said KPMG partner Richard Heis in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.

Okay, so there’s still half a bil out there somewhere. Anybody seen it? No? No worries, then. KPMG has a backup plan.

The administrator confirmed last week that it had sold MF Global’s stake in the London Metals Exchange to JP Morgan and the broker’s British metals desk had been offloaded to former rival FCStone. Heis said: “There are other parts of the business that could be sold and we are looking to sell them. We’re hopeful of making further announcements shortly.”

Your continued patience is appreciated.

KPMG recovers $500 million of MFG client money [Reuters]

KPMG Is Sorry for Not Sorting Through This Giant Charlie Foxtrot (aka MF Global) a Little Faster

Initially the House of Klynveld wasn’t worried about any MF Global clients getting their money back. Then yesterday we learned that plenty of people were pretty cranky, including one trader who thought the firm’s efforts so far were hilarious. Now, after a number of cranky phone calls and thousands of sternly-worded emails, KPMG is apologi[z]ing for all the “disruption” since they’ve been appointed as the administrator of MF Global:

“We are working with the companies’ staff to transfer client positions wherever possible. Where exchanges and counterparties have defaulted the company under their own rules, we have worked closely with them to try to optimise the outcome,” said Richard Fleming, UK head of restructuring at KPMG. “We understand the frustration among clients and market participants at the disruption that is currently being experienced and are sorry for the inconvenience this is causing. In relation to client assets and monies held by the company we are actively working to reconcile holdings and accounts in order to enable assets to be released as soon as possible.”

So, c’mon guys; I know it’s been over 72 hours but please bear with them.

KPMG apologises over MF Global disruption [FT]

MF Global Owes CNBC More Money Than PwC

As you may have heard, MF Global Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning. You may have also heard that for some strange reason, MF owes CNBC about $845k and change. Turns out, that is more money than it owes to PwC ($312,598), Alvarez & Marsal Tax Advisory Services ($65,000), The Siegfried Group ($30,000) and KPMG ($10,000) combined.


The bright side for P. Dubs is that they got most of the $12 million that they charged the company with last year. Of course if the shareholders take this bankruptcy as well as Lehman’s have (not to mention the NYAG and the State of New Jersey), then that really doesn’t serve as much consolation.

MF Global Bankruptcy Filing [via DB]

What’s Do We Make of BDO’s ‘Secret Settlement’ in the E.S. Bankest Dispute?

BDO is trying to put the E.S. Bankest/Banco Espirito mess behind it by submitting a “confidential agreement” to settle its litigation with the bankruptcy estate of E.S. Bankest, according to the South Florida Business Journal.

It sounds as though this could be put to rest as the bankruptcy trustee Barry Mukamal is quoted as saying, “I’m satisfied that this settlement is in the best interests of the estate,” although the creditors have to give the stamp approval as well. What’s not immediately clear from the article is to what extent Banco Espirito is involved in this settlement, the only mention being “”Lisbon-based Banco Espírito Santo and the estate of E.S. Bankest sued BDO Seidman regarding more than $140 million lost to a financial scheme run by former officers of E.S. Bankest.” I shot an email over to Steven Thomas who has represented Banco Espirito to sort this out and his spokesperson replied with the following statement, “BDO USA, LLP has entered into confidential settlement agreements with Banco Espirito Santo and Barry Mukamal, the bankruptcy trustee of E.S. Bankest, L.C., pursuant to which the lawsuits against BDO have been resolved.”

So when I asked if the re-trial was still on, I was simply referred back to the statement which kindasorta makes it sound as though this whole thing is over. But it still isn’t clear to me. Can anyone make sense of this? In the meantime, if I get to the bottom of this riddle, I’ll post an update.

BDO Seidman files secret settlement in malpractice case [SFBJ]

Accounting News Roundup: How Secure is SaaS?; Highest Marginal Tax Rates by State Under Dem, GOP Plans; Familiar Rich People | 09.23.10

Blockbuster Files for Bankruptcy After Online Rivals Gain [Bloomberg]
“Blockbuster Inc., the world’s biggest movie-rental company, filed for bankruptcy after failing to adapt its storefront model to online technology pioneered by rivals such as Netflix Inc.

The company listed assets of $1.02 billion against debt of $1.46 billion on a Chapter 11 petition filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. The company said it reached a deal with a group of bondholders on a plan of reorganization and secured a $125 million loan to finance operations.”

SaaS security: McAfee’s response [AccMan]
“One question that gets raised time and again: Is SaaS secure? The answer depends on with whom you speak. My take is that any vendor that cannot answer a set of well defined questions is probably not going to meet the minimum requirements for me to recommend a service.

Earlier today I attended a Salesforce.com presentation and among the speakers were Dell, Wells Fargo and McAfee. Both companies are deploying Salesforce and in particular its Chatter service to thousands of users. I put the question to Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce: ‘How do you demonstrate to users that services such as yours are secure without going down technical rat holes?’ ”

Friended for $100 Million [WSJ]
“Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old founder and chief executive of Facebook Inc., plans to announce a donation of up to $100 million to the Newark schools this week, in a bold bid to improve one of the country’s worst performing public school systems.”

Senate Holds Hearing Today on Lessons from the Tax Reform Act of 1986 [TaxProf Blog]
“Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will convene a hearing [today] to examine the lessons from the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and look at ideas for tax reform that will make the code simpler and fairer, while helping American businesses compete in the global economy.”


Top Marginal Effective Tax Rates by State under Rival Tax Plans from Congressional Democrats and Republicans [Tax Foundation]
The big winner is Hawaii with California taking first runner-up.

The Richest People in America [Forbes]
The usual: Gates, Buffett, Ellison, a lot of Sam Walton offspring, a pair of Kochs and Hizzoner.

Two Days After the IRS Took His Favorite Scarface Poster, Young Buck Filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Look, maybe if shotgun-toting IRS Agents kicked down your door and took your video games, a five-figure watch and a movie poster that has far more sentimental value than any of you can appreciate, then you might know Young Buck’s frame of mind.

If not, then you best button it.

Two days after every material possession in your house is taken away (and if you’re a hip-hop artist, material possessions are pretty much everything) you’re bound to re-examine your life.

Brown proposes having his label, Cashville Records, dock his pay $12,500 a month for 60 months, for a total of $750,000. The bankruptcy filing claims Brown earns a total of $19,170 a month.

The entertainer filed for Chapter 13 on Aug. 5. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George C. Paine accepted the proposed plan and ordered the payroll deductions Aug. 20. Brown will be free to keep his additional income, including royalty payments.

In other words, he’ll be back to Scarface wallpaper in no time.

Rapper Young Buck files for Chapter 13 bankruptcy after IRS raid [The Tennessean]

Accounting News Roundup: Senate Starts Voting on Financial Reform; Risk Management Succumbs to Risk Intelligence; Six Flags Emerges from Bankruptcy | 05.04.10

Voting begins in Senate on Wall Street reform [Reuters]
The latest partisan bickering effort in Congress will get underway today, although the first votes are not likely to be controversial. The first amendment to Senator Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) 1,600 page epic has been proposed by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and it state “that no taxpayer funds could be used again to bail out financial institutions,” something that anyone up for reelection will likely get behind.

PwC partner Colin Tenner sues over redundancy [Times Online]
Mr Tenner claims that he was let go because of his suffering from depression and anxiety. He claims “mismanagement at PwC and bullying by a client led to him to take sick leave in September 2007. He alleges that he approached PwC in spring 2008 to arrange a phased return to work but says that these discussions broke down, leading to his redundancy.”

Of interest is how the tribunal will decide, “what responsibilities partners at a professional services firm have when one of their number displays signs of stress or becomes mentally ill but wishes to remain in the partnership.” This seems odd primarily because most partners are constantly showing signs of stress and if they’re not, one just assumes they’re mentally ill.


Picower Estate to Pay Billions to Madoff Investors [WSJ]
The estate of Jeffery Picower, a Madoff investor who drowned in his pool last fall, will pay $2 billion to the Madoff trustee in charge of recovering money for investors. This will more than double the $1.5 billion recovered so far.

New Career Path: ‘Risk Intelligence Officer’ [FINS]
Much can be learned from the financial crisis; not least of which is that a lot of companies sucked at managing their risk. Case in point, “risk management” is a prehistoric idea now and one Deloitte principal argues that a “risk intelligence officer” is new sage in this area:

The job of a risk intelligence officer is to assess the organization’s risks and inform business line managers where they need to focus their risk-management efforts.

“They need somebody who can see the big picture and connect the dots,” said [Rick] Funston, who is a principal with Deloitte in Detroit. Deloitte has been encouraging its clients to develop the new role, he said…

Effective risk professionals find a way to discuss systemic failures and take steps to strengthen the organization’s resilience and agility. Part of the job is to understand a company’s vulnerabilities and make it OK to talk about them, institutionalizing the discussion.

Six Flags Emerges From Bankruptcy [Reuters]
Six Flags has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy just in time for summer and now “has more financial flexibility to pursue a shift in strategy toward attracting more families to its amusement parks.” Not sure who an amusement park company would target other than families but it’s nice to see you back in the game, 6F.

Accounting News Roundup: Lehman Unsecured Creditors Want Ernst & Young Docs; Court Doesn’t Allow “Geithner Defense” for Non-Geithner Taxpayer; Contenders for the Head of Deloitte UK Shape Up | 04.20.10

Lehman unsecured creditors seek probe Ernst & Young [Reuters]
The unsecured creditors of Lehman are justifiably nervous about getting anything bank in the wake of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. The next best plan of attack, as you might of expect is poke around E&Y to see what they’ve got laying around. Of course Ernst & Young won’t just turn over “certain documents” and make “its employees and partners submit to an oral examination” so the creditors are asking the bankruptcy court to order them to do so.


Tax Court Rejects “Geithner Defense,” Says Reliance on TurboTax Does Not Excuse Taxpayer From Penalty for Errors on Tax Return [TaxProf]
Please note for any of you that will try to pull that excuse:

“Although the Court concludes the errors in petitioners’ tax preparation were made in good faith, petitioners have not established that they behaved in a manner consistent with that of a prudent person. Before the trial petitioners stipulated that they did not consult a tax professional or visit the IRS’ Web site for instructions on filing the Schedule C.

We do not accept petitioners’ misuse of TurboTax, even if unintentional or accidental, as a defense to the penalties on the basis of the facts presented.”

Contenders shape up to replace John Connolly – Deloitte’s big hitter [Times Online]
The head spot for Deloitte in the UK will be up for grabs next year as John Connolly will step down after ten years at the helm. The Times Online reports that even though two candidates have been identified by sources, no campaigning will be allowed, “Mr Connolly conceded that the issue of succession was “in the air” but said that the firm wanted to avoid open competition between potential successors. “We don’t allow people to go around the country calling meetings and giving presentations about why they will be a great leader,” he said.”

Fuld: Ernst & Young “Supported” Lehman’s Repo 105 Treatment

Dick Fuld has a big date with the House Financial Services Committee tomorrow and he’s going to say that he knew absolutely nada about Repo 105 until that nasty little report came out last month.


Fuld will also state that Repo 105 complied with GAAP and that Ernst & Young “reviewed that policy and supported the firm’s approaf the relevant rule, FAS 140.” Further, E&Y was “auditing our financial statements and reviewing our quarterly and annual SEC filings. Each year, E&Y issued formal opinions that Lehman’s audited financial statements were fairly presented in accordance with GAAP, and they were.”

Presumably E&Y will be okay with this since they’re standing by their audits of LEH so we’re sure no one at 5 Times Square will be interested in tomorrow’s testimony.

Full testimony, via Deal Journal:

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Bachus, and Members of the House Committee on Financial Services, you have invited me here today to address a number of public policy issues raised by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy report filed by the Examiner.

Since September of 2008, I have given much thought to the financial crisis and the perfect storm of events that forced Lehman into bankruptcy. Everyone’s focus is now on how to prevent another crisis. The key is how regulation and governance should be deployed going forward to better protect the financial markets and the entire system.

The idea of a “super regulator” that monitors the financial markets for systemic risk, I believe, is a good one. To be successful in today’s challenging environment, this new regulator should have actual experience and a true understanding of the business of financial institutions, the capital markets and risk management and must be given the resources sufficient to accomplish its important mission.

My view is that the new regulator also should have access, on a real-time basis, to all information and data regarding transactions, assets and liabilities, as well as current and future commitments. In addition, we should put in place established and effective methods of communication between the regulator and the firms being regulated, all of whom should be guided by clear standards for capital requirements, liquidity and other risk management metrics. The job of the new regulator can only be done, in my opinion, with the creation and utilization of a master mark-to-market capability that determines valuations and capital haircuts on all assets, commitments, loans and structures. In short, to have a fair and orderly market, I believe we need a single set of transparent rules for all of the participants.

You have asked specifically about the role of the SEC and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Beginning in March of 2008, the SEC and the Fed conducted regular, at times daily, oversight of Lehman. SEC and Fed officials were physically present in our offices monitoring our daily activities. The SEC and the Fed saw what we saw, in real time, as they reviewed our liquidity, funding, capital, risk management and mark-to-market processes. The SEC and the Fed were privy to everything as it was happening. I am not aware that any data was ever withheld from them, or that either of them ever asked for any information that
was not promptly provided. After an extended investigation into Lehman’s bankruptcy, the Examiner recently published a lengthy report stating his views.

Despite popular and press misconceptions about Lehman’s valuations of mortgage and real estate assets, liquidity, and risk management, the Examiner found no breach of duty by anyone at Lehman with respect to any of these.

Speaking of asset valuations, the world still is being told that Lehman had a huge capital hole. It did not. The Examiner concluded that Lehman’s valuations were reasonable, with a net immaterial variation of between $500 million and $2.0 billion. Using the Examiner’s analysis, as of August 31, 2008 Lehman therefore had a remaining equity base of at least $26 billion. That conclusion is totally inconsistent with the capital hole arguments that were used by many to undermine Lehman’s bid for support on that fateful weekend of September 12, 2008.

The Examiner did take issue, though, with Lehman’s “Repo 105” sale transactions. As to that, I believe that the Examiner’s report distorted the relevant facts, and the press, in turn, distorted the Examiner’s report. The result is that Lehman and its people have been unfairly vilified.

Let me start by saying that I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of hearing anything about Repo 105 transactions while I was CEO of Lehman. Nor do I have any recollection of seeing documents that related to Repo 105 transactions. The first time I recall ever hearing the term “Repo 105” was a year after the bankruptcy filing, in connection with questions raised by the Examiner.

My knowledge, therefore, about Lehman’s Repo 105 transactions, and what I will say about them today, is based upon my understanding of what I have recently learned.

As CEO, I oversaw a global organization of more than 28,000 people with hundreds of business lines and products and with operations in more than forty countries spread over five continents. My responsibility as the CEO was to create an infrastructure of people, systems and processes, all designed to ensure that the firm’s business was properly conducted in compliance with the applicable standards, rules and regulations.

There has been a lot of misinformation about Repo 105. Among the worst were the completely erroneous reports on the front pages of major newspapers claiming that Lehman used Repo 105 transactions to remove toxic assets from its balance sheet. That simply was not true. According to the Examiner, virtually all of the Repo 105 transactions involved highly liquid investment grade securities, most of them government securities. Some of the newspapers that got it wrong were fair-minded enough to print a correction.

Another piece of misinformation was that Repo 105 transactions were used to hide Lehman’s assets. That also was not true. Repo 105 transactions were sales, as mandated by the accounting rule, FAS 140.

Another misperception was that the Repo 105 transactions contributed to Lehman’s bankruptcy. That was not true either. Lehman was forced into bankruptcy amid one of the most turbulent periods in our economic history, which culminated in a catastrophic crisis of confidence and a run on the bank. That crisis almost brought down a large number of other financial institutions, but those institutions were saved because of government support in the form of additional capital and fundamental changes to the rules and regulations governing banks and investment banks.

The Examiner himself acknowledged that the Repo 105 transactions were not inherently improper and that Lehman vetted those transactions with its outside auditor. He also does not dispute that Lehman appropriately accounted for those transactions as required by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

I have recently learned that, in 2000, the Financial Accounting Standards Board published detailed accounting rules for transactions of this very type, described them and dictated how they should be accounted for. In 2001, Lehman adopted a written accounting policy for Repo 105 transactions that incorporated those accounting rules. E&Y, the firm’s independent outside auditor, reviewed that policy and supported the firm’s approach and application of the relevant rule, FAS 140.

As I now understand it, because Lehman’s Repo 105 transactions met the FAS 140 requirements, that accounting rule mandated that those transactions be accounted for as a sale. That was exactly what I believe Lehman did. Lehman should not be criticized for complying with the applicable accounting standards.

In other words, those transactions were modeled on FAS 140. The accounting authorities wrote the rule that expressly provided for those transactions and how they should be accounted for. To the best of my knowledge, Lehman followed those rules and requirements.

My job as the CEO was also to put in place a robust process to ensure that Lehman complied with all of its obligations to make accurate public disclosures. I had hundreds of people in the internal audit, finance, risk management and legal functions to ensure that we did, in fact, comply with all of our obligations.

Part of that process was E&Y’s role in auditing our financial statements and reviewing our quarterly and annual SEC filings. Each year, E&Y issued formal opinions that Lehman’s audited financial statements were fairly presented in accordance with GAAP, and they were.

We also had in place a rigorous certification process that was carried out in advance of every annual and quarterly SEC filing. That bottom-up process involved hundreds of people who had first-hand knowledge of the firm’s day-to-day business and the responsibility to review for accuracy and compliance the firm’s SEC disclosures before they were filed.

Before we made any annual or quarterly filing, the key people who were involved in this process signed certifications confirming that, to their knowledge, the filing did not contain any untrue statement of a material fact or any material omission and that it fairly presented Lehman’s financial position.

Our certification process culminated, every quarter, with a mandatory, allhands, in-person meeting, which was chaired by Lehman’s Chief Legal Officer. In addition to me, that meeting was attended by the firm’s President, Chief Financial Officer, Financial Controller, Executive Committee members, business heads, the principal internal audit, finance and risk managers, legal counsel and our outside auditors.

After we had reviewed the draft annual or quarterly filing in detail, the Chief Legal Officer and I would each ask everyone present to speak up if there was anything in the document that caused them concern, or if anything had been omitted that they thought should be included. Attendees were also told that they should speak separately with the Chief Legal Officer if they had an issue that they did not want to raise at the meeting. To my knowledge, no one ever, at any of those meetings, raised any issue about Repo 105 transactions.

I relied on this certification process because it showed that those with granular knowledge believed the SEC filings were complete and accurate. I never signed an SEC filing unless it was first approved by the Chief Legal Officer. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for allowing me to speak on these issues and I will be pleased to answer any questions this Committee may have.

Accounting News Roundup: Over 50% of CFOs Aren’t Planning on Salary Increases; Americans Don’t Trust Politicians; PwC Cleans Up on Lehman Bankruptcy | 04.19.10

National survey finds employee wages and bonuses to remain stagnant over next six months [GT Press Release]
All the excitement (or lack thereof) amongst the Big 4 about raises this year will, at least for the next six month, will be rare compared to other companies. Grant Thornton’s survey of CFOs revealed that 53% don’t expect any salary changes in the next six months while 32% plan for decreases. That leaves a whopping 15% of those left in the survey that are planning wage and bonus increases over the next six months.


Poll: 4 out of 5 Americans don’t trust Washington [AP]
So if you’re interested in running for office, this may be the year to do it.

PwC’s Administration of Lehman Translates to $24,000 Per Hour! [The Big Four Blog]
Naturally in most situations, there are winners and there are losers. While Ernst & Young is looking like a giant loser in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the whole thing seems to have worked out well for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

TBFB reports that, as the administrator for the UK piece of Lehman, the firm has gained control of over $48 billion in assets. Costs associated with these services (in the 18 months since the bankruptcy) are 0.65% of the assets recovered. A quick punch of your 10-key reveals that this is around $312 million or $24,000/hour.

SEC Might Bring Civil Charges Against Ernst & Young Soon, Maybe

Charlie Gasparino is reporting that the SEC probe in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy is “ramping up” and that the Commission is under hella-pressure to bring civil charges against Dick Fuld, Ernst & Young and whoever else is on the list.

It’s unclear if the SEC can muster the necessary proof to show that top executives like former CEO Richard Fuld or the firm’s outside auditor Ernst & Young intentionally misled investors about the health of Lehman’s balance sheet in the months before it filed for bankruptcy in mid-September 2008, according to people close to the probe…It’s unclear when any charges might be filed by the SEC, but people close to the inquiry say the SEC believes it does bring one, it must do so “very soon,” possibly within a few months given a combination of the outrage over the report’s findings and that Lehman’s bankruptcy is going on two years old.

Okay, so things are urgent but not that urgent. It’ll be Father’s Day maybe the 4th of July by the time we get a Mary Schapiro smackdown.

But that’s not all! Things are really serious at Ernst & Young now because Charlie reports that E&Y “has hired high-profile white-collar attorney William McLucas as its outside counsel in the matter, people close to the firm say. McLucas had been the SEC’s enforcement chief before entering private practice.” We checked with our friends over at ATL and it turns out that Mr McLucas is a partner at high-powered WilmerHale and was lead counsel to the special committee of the Enron Board that reported “hard-hitting findings” (sayeth he).

Since Mr McLucas doesn’t take shit from the likes of short-seller Jim Chanos, we’ll take Charlie’s word that things are pretty serious over at 5 Times Square.

E&Y spokesman Charlie Perkins declined to comment.

SEC Probe of Lehman Picking Up Steam [FBN]
See also:
Gasparino: SEC May Be Forced To Do Something About This Whole Lehman Thing [DB]

Accounting News Roundup: Substance at Utah IRS Building Was ‘Non-hazardous’; Goldman Sachs Discloses Its Bad Publicity Risk; Resort Where Tiger Gave Apology Files for Bankruptcy | 03.02.10

Suspicious substance at IRS called non-hazardous [KSL5]
After everything that has happened lately that is IRS-related, somehow that white powdery substance showing up at an IRS building and three employees having seizures is one giant coinky-dink.


Goldman Discloses a New Risk: Bad Publicity [DealBook]
Team Jehovah pushed the button on its 10-K yesterday and because they’re the type of company to keep everything on the up and up, they put it out there that when every media source calls you out each time you break wind, you have a entirely new problem:

“Press coverage and other public statements that assert some form of wrongdoing, regardless of the factual basis for the assertions being made, often results in some type of investigation by regulators, legislators and law enforcement officials, or in lawsuits.

…adverse publicity…can also have a negative impact on our reputation and on the morale and performance of our employees, which could adversely affect our businesses and results of operations.”

You don’t think the name calling and nuclear testicle jokes can affect the bottom line? Think again. PwC bought it. Shouldn’t you?

Sawgrass Resort Linked to Tiger Woods Apology Files Bankruptcy [Bloomberg]
At present, avoiding any contact with Tiger seems to be prudent.

PwC Basically Says That the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy is a Trainwreck

trainwreck.jpgIf you find yourself out of work but are willing to endure several sleepless nights across the pond, PwC in the UK may need some help with the administration of Lehman Brothers.
More, after the jump


Reuters, via NYT:

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which is working with over 100 companies, mostly in the UK but also in continental Europe, said on Sunday: “We’re dealing with a large number of entities and therefore the claims could be as much as $100 billion.
“These claims are exceptionally complex and we anticipate a large amount of further work in dealing with (them).”
A significant amount of the claims arose as a result of guarantees issued by the parent company to its subsidiaries, the administrator said.
PwC said it had worked with administrators in other affiliates to understand Lehman’s accounting system so a standard approach to the reconciliation of inter company balances could be agreed.
“If this can be achieved then it should reduce the likelihood of affiliates suing each other in pursuit of amounts that are owed between the different Lehman estates,” it added.

Not sure what kind of expectations Lehman’s creditors have but we’d encourage a cynical outlook.
Lehman Claims Could Reach $100 Billion: PwC [Reuters via NYT]
Lehman Bankruptcy Won’t Be Pretty [JDA]