December 11, 2018

Lawsuits

Federal Judge Sides with KPMG in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

KPMG scored a huge victory in court on Nov. 30, as a New York federal court judge declined to certify a long-running class-action lawsuit by thousands of current and former female KPMG tax and advisory professionals who accused the firm of gender, pay, and promotion discrimination dating back to 2008. While the ruling bars the […]

Female KPMG Employees Seek Class Status in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit, Detail Alleged Sexual Misconduct at the Firm

There was a new development yesterday in the long-running gender bias lawsuit against KPMG, in which a group of current and former female advisory and tax professionals have accused the firm of gender, pay, and promotion discrimination, as well as condoning sexual harassment. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs filed a motion on Nov. 27 that asked […]

Ex-EY Manager’s Paternity Leave Lawsuit Against Firm Is Heading to Arbitration

A dispute between EY and a former senior manager who claims the firm fired him after he requested additional paternity leave after the birth of his child must be settled in arbitration, a federal judge in Philadelphia said last week. The plaintiff, Shmuel Eisenbach, didn’t prove that anything in the EY arbitration agreement he signed […]

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Get Yer Pointin’ Fingers Ready, We’re Looking Back on the Financial Crisis Ten Years Later

I got a notification from Twitter the other day reminding me that it’s been 10 whole years since I joined. Wow, that long? I realized that I’d done it the week the economy started swirling down the drain in earnest back in 2008. Unlike my Twitter anniversary, we can argue all day over the actual […]

Judge Allows Class-Action Suit to Proceed Against KPMG Over Shoddy Miller Energy Audit

A federal judge in Tennessee on Aug. 2 declined to throw out a securities class-action lawsuit against KPMG, in which investors are accusing the Big 4 firm of screwing up the audit of now-defunct oil and gas company Miller Energy Resources Inc. In Lewis Cosby et al. v. KPMG L.L.P., the investors say they got […]

Older Job Seekers Denied Class-Action Status in Age Discrimination Lawsuit Against PwC

A federal judge in San Francisco rejected class-action status to a group of up to 14,000 older job applicants on July 26 who are accusing PwC of favoring younger workers over individuals over the age of 40 for entry-level positions within the firm. The age discrimination lawsuit, which was filed in April 2016 by CPA […]

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Judge Tosses Accountant’s Suit Claiming Bar Discriminated Against Him for Wearing MAGA Hat

Not a miter. Not even close. Last year we shared the story of Greg Piatek, a Deloitte senior manager who sued The Happiest Hour, a bar in New York’s West Village that he claims kicked him out over his “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat. On Wednesday, a judge threw out Piatek’s lawsuit, but not before […]

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Talking About Race, Mega Lawsuits, That Oscars Screw-up and More: A Conversation With PwC’s Tim Ryan

Most people would look at the year PwC Chairman and Senior Partner Tim Ryan has had and think, “That’s rough.” After two killings of black men by police officers and the killing of 5 Dallas police officers last summer, Ryan told Fortune in February that he scrapped his plans and, “got the team together and […]

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MF Global Not Amused By PwC’s Threats for a Mistrial

Yesterday, PwC asked the judge in its court battle with MF Global to prohibit the use of a “new theory of causation” or to declare a mistrial. PwC filed the motion at midnight on Monday, so you can’t blame the plaintiffs if they felt caught off guard. Dan Fetterman, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs […]

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Is PwC on the Ropes in the MF Global Trial?

How are you, PwC? Week 2 in the trial between MF Global and PwC started off interestingly enough: PwC wants the judge to consider declaring a mistrial. The reason? The firm’s lawyers claim that the plaintiffs have “changed its theory of why the brokerage failed” calling it a “trial by ambush.” MF Global’s attorneys see […]

PwC Has Had Enough Courtroom Fun

PwC is settling the lawsuit brought by the bankruptcy trustee of mortgage behemoth Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, putting speculation to rest that a verdict in the $5.5 billion lawsuit for the plaintiff could be the beginning of the end for the firm.

PwC Defense Attorney Putting a Lot of Faith in a Florida Jury

Starting Monday, PwC will go trial in Florida over a financial crisis-era case. The plaintiff is the bankruptcy trustee for Taylor Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp, who is seeking $5.5 billion in damages, claiming that "PwC was negligent in not detecting a massive fraud scheme that brought down Taylor Bean and helped trigger the 2009 […]

Grant Thornton Not Gonna Let Some Rich Guy Drag Its Good Name Through the Mud and Get Away With It

You wanna get nuts? Come on, let's get nuts! Grant Thornton has filed a counter-claim against Vincent Tchenguiz for defamation after the property entrepreneur sued the accounting firm for £2.2bn and accused it of a conspiracy.  In documents filed at the London High Court on Tuesday, Grant Thornton denied Mr Tchenguiz’s claims and said it […]

Plaintiff Who Filed Gender Discrimination Suit Responds to KPMG’s Women’s Leadership Campaign

Back in 2011, a former KPMG Senior Manager named Donna Kassman filed a $350 million class action lawsuit against the firm alleging "relentless gender discrimination and harassment." In addition, she claimed that despite speaking up, "the Company had no interest in remedying the situation." Since the story broke, we've followed developments including that 9,000 women […]

The Aftermath of the Ex-PwC Employee Who Got Fired After a Dispute with Comcast Is About What You’d Expect

Last October we learned that a PwC fired an employee named Canal O'Rourke for violating the firm's "ethics standards." This violation came about after O'Rourke became understandably agitated over his Comcast bill and the company's failure to rectify the situation. BEEN THERE. At some point, Mr. O'Rourke reached Comcast's Chief Accounting Officer, Larry Salva. O'Rourke started […]

Nearly 900 Female KPMG Employees Have Joined the Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

As you may remember, in October of last year, 9,000 female Klynveldians were welcomed to join the class action lawsuit brought against KPMG in 2011 by former senior manager Donna Kassman. The suit alleges "systemic discrimination in pay and promotion, discrimination based on pregnancy, and chronic failure to properly investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and […]

Judge: AICPA Was a Little Melodramatic About IRS’s Voluntary Registration Program

Earlier this year, the AICPA warned that they would go on a jihad against the IRS if our favorite sovereign tax authority went ahead with a plan to offer voluntary tax preparer registration. Getting really dramatic about things, the AICPA basically complained that the IRS plan conflicted with everything the CPA designation stands for and […]

Fired PwC Employee Is Suing Comcast But Not to Get His Job Back

Conal O'Rourke will not go quietly into that dark night without a fight, folks, he just wants you to know that. In case Comcast wasn't aware of that fact, he has filed a lawsuit. Gawker has the story: Conal O'Rourke is going after Comcast and its controller, Lawrence Salva, for defamation, and arguing the company […]

Some Current and Former Ladies of KPMG Can Expect Extra Special Mail Very Soon

If you're interested in keeping up with Kassman, et al. v. KPMG, the lawsuit alleging pay discrimination against current and former KPMG employees, this press release has some items of note: Today, approximately 9,000 women who work or worked at KPMG between October 2008 and the present should begin receiving in their mailboxes a Court-ordered […]

EY Sued By Man Claiming He Was Disabled Due to Pending Ulcer, High Blood Pressure

UPDATE: This case has been settled. Details below. Christopher Cotter is a 52-year-old Houston man who “suffers from peptic inflammatory disease and labile hypertension," according to a complaint filed against the Big 4 firm formerly known as Ernst & Young in a Southern District of Texas court on August 5th. In layman's terms, he has […]

Judge Rules PwC Will Face MF Global Lawsuit Whether PwC Likes It Or Not

Last we checked in on the ongoing MF Global v PwC drama that is currently working its way through the U.S. District Court, Southern District New York, Judge Marrero took a long piss all over PwC's in pari delicto excuse. In his decision today, Judge Marrero held: “It is plausible to conclude that PwC’s accounting […]

Why Do Accounting Firms Feel the Need to Vigorously Defend Themselves?

The other day, news came out that a class action suit had been filed against KPMG. I know, I know, it's like every other week some accounting firm is getting sued for something. Of course, KPMG wanted to make it clear that they would "vigorously defend" themselves in court: Siskinds LLP, Siskinds Desmeules and JSS […]

The AICPA Just Sued the IRS Over “Purported” Voluntary Tax Preparer Program

Calling it "an illegitimate exercise of government power," the AICPA has now taken their dislike of the IRS' voluntary tax preparer program to court: The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) today issued the statement below by AICPA President and CEO Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, regarding the filing of a federal lawsuit in the U.S. […]

PwC Defends Itself Against “Baseless” MF Global Suit Using MF Global’s Own Stupidity

PwC was recently dealt a blow when U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero stated: “[u]nder PwC’s reasoning, the in pari delicto doctrine would insulate an auditor from liability whenever a company pursues a failed investment strategy after receiving wrongful advice from an accountant. Such a broad reading of the doctrine would effectively put an end to […]

Ex-Wife of Art Shamsky Back in Court to Sue Deloitte for Sexual Harassment

A lawsuit was quietly filed in New York on Tuesday, naming Deloitte and Big D Talent Director Louis Bastone as defendants. The charge? Sexual harassment. Well, sexual harassment and severe work-related cockblocking.

If a Movie About Fraud Was Funded With Fraud, That Would Be Dumb (and Dumber)

The source of the $100 million used to finance Oscar-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street is being openly questioned in a Los Angeles courtroom. Brad Krevoy and Steve Stabler, producers of the 1994 hit Dumb and Dumber, are suing Red Granite and its principals, Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland, for being excluded from a sequel. […]

PwC Sued for $1 Billion Over MFGlobal; Accused of ‘Erroneous’ Advice

Well it's a good thing we didn't check out early and head to the bar tonight, the ish just hit the proverbial fan for PwC: The administrator of MF Global Holdings Ltd's bankruptcy plan on Friday sued the auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers for at least $1 billion over its advice on a $6.3 billion European sovereign debt […]

This Deloitte Employee Doesn’t Want to Hear About How Much Your Landlord Sucks

I'm sure we've all dealt with our fair share of terrible landlords — mine, for example, don't even salt our sidewalk in winter and seem determined to put the loudest, most obnoxious idiots possible in the unit next to me — but this Deloitte consultant pretty much wins in the worst landlord department. What would […]

NY State Is Serious About the Battle with EY Over Lehman Audit Fees

Not so fast, Ernst & Young. You may be able to rebrand and spout off a bunch of feel good hooey about integrity or whatever silly phrase you're using these days but you're gonna need a bigger rug under which to sweep Lehman, guys: A New York state appeals court on Thursday revived the New […]

Grant Thornton Isn’t Going to Take This $100 Million Tax Shelter Ruling Lying Down

See, and you guys say we never listen to you. This comes from this morning's open items thread: Is it true that Grant Thornton lost a $100MM lawsuit regarding tax shelters? Accounting Today has the best scoop I've seen so far on this matter: A Kentucky circuit court judge has ruled that Grant Thornton is […]

Ernst & Young, Living in Denial, Settles with Lehman Investors for $99 Million

This is rich. Michael Rapoport reports: Ernst & Young LLP has agreed to pay $99 million to settle investor class-action allegations that it turned a blind eye when its audit client Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. misled investors before the investment bank's 2008 collapse. The investors and Ernst "have reached an agreement in principle" to settle the […]

The Latest Twist in Overtime Lawsuits Against Accounting Firms

Here's an interesting development in the wage and hour disputes between public accounting firms and their unlicensed staff. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently found that "class action waivers" included in offer letters to new associates are enforceable. What does that mean exactly? The case Sutherland v. Ernst & Young provides the background: “Alyssa” […]

Deloitte Satisfied with Size of Check It’ll Cut to Settle Taylor Bean & Whitaker Lawsuit

The Green Dot blinks: Breaking: Attorney Steven Thomas says lawsuit by Taylor Bean & Whitaker bk trustee vs Deloitte settled "mutual satisfaction of parties". — Francine McKenna (@retheauditors) October 3, 2013 I've confirmed Francine's account with Mr. Thomas. Deloitte has not responded to our email requesting for comment. I spoke to Steven Thomas a few […]

Let’s Walk Down Memory Lane with Ernst & Young and Lehman Brothers

This week, lots of people are talking about the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy because five years is half of a decade and, well, it was the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history so that counts for something. Yesterday, we linked to the DealBook story that explains why the SEC threw in the towel and for me, it's one […]

Lawyers Suing Moss Adams Remain Unflappable After Judge Tells Them to Get Lost

As you may or may not remember, the largest Ponzi Scheme in the state of Washington was perpetrated by a man named Frederick Darren Berg. His company, Meridian Group, bilked investors out of $150 million or so and now the bankruptcy trustee for the company is trying to recover some of those funds. One of […]

The Trial Date Has Been Set in the Big Wage and Hour Lawsuit Against PwC

Ever since Going Concern was launched in 2009, we've been following Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the wage and hour lawsuit brought by audit associates in California. It's one of many suits floating around in the legal system but Campbell has slowly progressed through the courts, including arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on whether PwC could […]

Strip Club Mogul Slash Tea Partier Sues the IRS For Targeting, Guaranteeing He Will Be Targeted

If you haven't heard of him, Selim "Sam" Zherka is just a regular ole business-owner and Tea Partier in New York who calls himself the "loudest voice" for the Tea Party in New York State. In 2008 he apparently got in trouble after he told a cop at City Hall "I pay your fu**ing salary. […]

Deloitte CEO Joe Echevarria Doesn’t Want to Hear About the Troubles You’ve Had Selling *Your* House

As you may recall, after Joe Echevarria became CEO of Deloitte in 2011, we learned that his house in Westchester was up for grabs with an asking price of $2.8 million. The 6,000 square-foot spread had hit the market in March of that year listed at $3 mil, so you can safely assume that Joe and his wife Ana were anxious to move the thing.

The California Wage and Hour Lawsuit Against PwC Is Finally Going to Trial

It's been awhile since we've written anything on Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers but this announcement from the plaintiffs' attorneys seemed worthy of sharing with you all: On March 1, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals entered an order denying defendant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP's petition for an early appeal of the District Court's order denying class decertification.   […]

World Class Accounting Firms Getting a World Class Action Litigation Experience

Class actions against the world's largest corporate auditing firms are spreading globally as governments bolster investor protection laws in countries where the Big Four firms have previously not faced substantial legal risks. Even as class action lawsuits dwindle in the United States due to court rulings and legislation, the number of countries allowing these kinds of […]

Express Scripts Accuses Ernst & Young Partner of Being the Worst Corporate Spy Ever

Late on Friday, Bloomberg reported that Express Scripts was suing Ernst & Young and a former E&Y partner for "theft of trade secrets and misappropriation of the pharmacy benefit manager’s confidential and proprietary data." Which is really just a very nice of saying "corporate espionage."  And perhaps not surprisingly, the partner in question, Don Gravlin, wasn't […]

SingerLewak Sued By Financially Troubled Former Client For Failing To Detect Fraud

Oh geez, not this again. When will clients just get over it? Here's the bad news for SingerLewak coming out of SoCal: The financially troubled Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission is suing its former auditor for more than $11 million, alleging that it failed to detect errors in financial statements between 2007 and 2011, a […]

Oregon Man’s Encounter with IRS Agent Oddly Similar to the Plot of a Bad Porno Movie

Today in bizarre sexual encounters with government employees news, a Fall Creek, Oregon man has filed a lawsuit against an IRS agent for "coerc[ing] him into having sex with her after suggesting that the liaison could keep him out of tax trouble." Dora Abrahamson claims to have known Vincent Burroughs when she called him to inform that […]

Study: Rules-based Accounting Shields Firms From Lawsuits

According to groundbreaking research by Richard Mergenthaler, assistant professor of accounting at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, shareholders are more likely to sue firms that use principles-based accounting standards over rules-based standards. The short: Some claim that rules-based accounting standards shield firms from litigation, while others argue that violations of detailed rules […]

Big 4 Firms Performing Quite Well in the Self-Preservation Department

If you are able to find Google's homepage and have a couple of functioning digits, it isn't difficult to find news of Big 4 audit firms settling lawsuits over the past few years. Satyam. Countrywide. Bear Stearns. Sino-Forest. There are others. There will be more. In the UK, regulators have been grilling the Big 4 over […]

PwC Is Having a Really Rough November Already

Yeah so first this happened: On Wednesday the FDIC, as receiver for the Colonial Bank of Montgomery, Alabama, sued PricewaterhouseCoopers and Crowe Horwath in federal court in Montgomery, claiming that they committed professional malpractice and breach of contract by failing to detect that two Colonial employees helped the notorious (and defunct) mortgage lender Taylor Bean […]

Arthur Andersen’s Bones Still Have Some Meat on Them

Hey, an extra $38 million for the WorldCom fiasco is an extra $38 million: Two law firms, Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman LLP and Barrack Rodos & Bacine, announced the proposed settlement Monday. They noted that the lead plaintiff previously achieved settlements with various defendants in the case for over $6.1 billion plus interest to […]

Internal Control Zealots May Be Helpful in Preventing Accounting-related Reckonings

Lawyers. Gotta love 'em. They have many functions but when it comes to accounting and financial reporting, it's usually to sue the pants off those who make gross errors in these two areas. Maybe the company was stupid; maybe the company did something illegal. It doesn't matter. If some numbers are wrong and someone lost […]

This Senior Accountant Alleges Her Job Was Killing Her

How many of you were surprised your first year or two by the sheer amount of work piled on you? If those massive piles of work also included real or allged verbal abuse and assault, you might have a case. Tammy Armstrong of Rapid City, SD probably didn't imagine she'd be working in the depths […]

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Must Not Mind That Their Audit Firm Is Also a Strategic Partner for a Presentation That Includes a Blogger That Doesn’t Say Particularly Nice Things About Their Financial Reporting

As most of you know, convicted-fraudster-turned-accounting-sleuth and all-around ham Sam Antar now spends his days blogging, exposing companies whose financial reporting and disclosures strikes him as a little too familiar to some of the tricks he pulled in his Crazy Eddie days.  Sam also spends a fair amount of time educating the less criminally-inclined on […]

Lawyer Suing Moss Adams Seems to Have Hurt Feelings After Opposing Counsel Called His Lawsuit “Flimsy”

Anyone remember Frederick Darren Berg? He's a guy who had a thing – nay, a passion – for charter buses. It just so happens that he also was running Washington's largest ever Ponzi scheme to finance his passion. Moss Adams (who Berg says is not at fault) was the auditor for FDB's Meridian funds – […]

City of Dixon Sues Auditors Over…Ya Know

That money isn't going to find itself now, is it? An attorney for the city of Dixon filed a civil complaint this morning against the accounting firms that conducted the city's audit for the past 5 years. The complaint says that Samuel S. Card, CPA, P.C., and Janis Card Company, LLC, both located at 501 E. […]

Baker Tilly Found Liable in Aqua Finance Lawsuit; Ordered to Pay $50 Million

This slipped by us last week, but after noting last Thursday morning that a lawsuit against Baker Tilly for $327 million was nearing its end, we found this story from late on Thursday reporting that BT had lost the suit to Aqua Finance. Aqua Finance accused its former accounting and advising firm of negligence and breach […]

Here’s an Unflattering Statement About Deloitte’s Auditing Ability

Courtesy of lawyers representing The Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System, who are suing the Green Dot over WG Trading Co., a firm allegedly used in a Ponzi scheme:  Deloitte “acted in willful blindness of the scheme, and its auditing practices were so deficient that the audits amounted to no audit at all, or an egregious refusal […]

The Distaste for IRS’ Tax Preparer Regulations Has Reached Its Apex

The only question is, why did it took take so long? A nonprofit group plans to sue the Internal Revenue Service and argue that the agency’s effort to regulate tax-return preparers is unlawful. The Institute for Justice, an organization in Arlington, Virginia, that seeks to protect individual liberties, said in a statement it will file the […]

Should You Join the Class Action Overtime Lawsuit Against Your Accounting Firm?

Wage and hour lawsuits against Big 4 firms have been part of our coverage since the launch of Going Concern. Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers has been big news in California and was the first case we covered. Lately, Pippins v. KPMG has been getting quite a bit of ink, thanks to a very proactive PR campaign by […]

What Pippins v. KPMG Could Mean for Your Firm

Ed. note: This post is republished from AccountingWEB. Any employer who has faced potential class action wage and hour lawsuits knows what a headache they can be. Due to a recent court ruling, employers have a lot more to worry about. That case, Pippins v. KPMG LLP, has caused tremendous turmoil and confusion among those […]

Memo to Audit Firms: If Steven Thomas Sues You, That Means You Really Screwed Up

If you've been reading Going Concern for a while, you have probably heard the name Steven Thomas. If you're unfamiliar, he's a partner at the law firm of Thomas, Alexander & Forrester in Vencie, California and he's done quite all right for himself by suing auditors. Big auditors. He served as lead counsel for the plaintiffs in […]

PwC Is the Real Victim in This Whole Satyam Suing the Crap Out of Everyone Situation, Says PwC

The Indian Enron fuckshow otherwise known as Satyam has seemingly been in our lives since before Adrienne had tattoos. Even after settlements, new auditors, and delayed restatement after delayed restatement, one might think that we had heard the last of this godforsaken money pit. Nope! Indian software outsourcer Mahindra Satyam on Monday said it had filed […]

New York Court Invites All KPMG Audit Associates to Play in Overtime Lawsuit

Law firm Outten & Golden has issued a press release today announcing any House of Klynveld audit associates who are feeling a little short changed because they missed out on overtime pay are now officially invited to join in the fun.  A New York federal court conditionally certified a national collective action lawsuit that alleges […]

Latest Madoff Lawsuit Filed Against Ernst & Young Is Refreshingly Brief

Bloomberg reports, that E&Y was sued for “negligence, malpractice and breach of contract in connection with audits of financial statements over a five- year period,” which sounds like the standard fair in these matters. The pleasant surprise being the brevity of the suit. “The two-page filing doesn’t provide any details of the allegations against Ernst & Young,” which may cause you to wonder if it’s really just a one-page lawsuit (unthinkable, I know) with the second page simply stating, “This page is intentionally left blank.” Of course the downside here (aside from another lawsuit being lumped on the pile) is that E&Y’s lawyers won’t get a chance to rack up many billable hours just yet. Which is to say, there is no downside. [Bloomberg, Earlier]

New Jersey Hasn’t Forgiven Ernst & Young for the Whole Lehman Brothers Thing

I mean, you know how it is, when you lose $192 million. It’s a tough thing to forget. The Journal reports that the Garden State has renewed its lawsuit against E&Y saying “Those review reports were false, as E&Y knew or should have known that Lehman’s quarterly financial statements were not prepared in accordance with [GAAP].” When reached for comment, E&Y spokesman Charlie Perkins’s voice was barely audible on a nearly worn out tape recording, “Lehman’s demise was caused by the global financial crisis that impacted the entire financial sector, not by accounting or financial reporting issues.” Wouldn’t it be nice if Chuck had Nick DeSanto sing the statement? With a rock accompaniment? At least it would liven up this story again. [WSJ]

Deloitte Resents the Notion That They Should Have Known That Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Was a Massive Fraud

As we mentioned briefly, Deloitte has been sued for $7.6 billion by the bankruptcy trustee of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker and Ocala Funding, LLC. If you’ve never heard of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker then check out Jr. Deputy Accountant who’s been all over it since the Feds starting kicking down the doors. Long story short – TBW was a giant fraud perpetrated by its management, Colonial Bank owned a lot of TBW’s mortgages, Colonial failed, Bank of America bought up a bunch of the mortgages, Fannie Mae says they’re owed money, CHRIST, it’s a mess.

Anyhoo, Steven Thomas, who is known for suing the pants of Big 4 firms (and BDO!), is the lead attorney for the plaintiffs and it sounds like the age-old story of auditors BEING COMPLETE IDIOTS:

“Deloitte missed this fraud because it simply accepted management’s conflicting, incomplete and often last-minute explanations of highly-questionable transactions, even though those explanations made no sense and were flatly contradicted by documents in Deloitte’s possession,” one of the lawsuits says.

Of course Deloitte isn’t amused by this, as Deloitte spokesman Jonathan Gandal’s statement attests:

Gandal said the blame for the fraud and losses should rest squarely on Taylor Bean, Ocala Funding and Farkas. “The bizarre notion that his engines of theft are entitled to complain of injury from their own crimes and to sue the outside auditors they lied to defies common sense, not to mention the law,” Gandal said on behalf of Deloitte.

If this statement strikes you as a little confusing, then you’re not alone. First off, when Mr. Gandal is referring to the “the law” he’s probably referring to this. In less legalese, basically what Deloitte is saying is that Lee Farkas and his merry band of crooks are the ones responsible for this shitshow not the Green Dot and therefore, this whole thing is ludicrous. I mean, come on guys, what could a firm that just reported nearly $29 billion in revenue could possibly have done differently? Crooks are just far too smart far auditors. Just ask one.

KPMG Can’t Get Rid of the Countrywide Rash

As you probably remember, Countrywide Financial once owned a lot of shitty mortgages. This wasn’t clear to many of the company’s investors so when the things turned sour, lots of those investors lost boatloads of money and then Bank of America came in to pick up the scraps. KPMG was the auditor of Countrywide and the shareholders sued both companies because, gosh, that’s basically what happens when a bunch of money is lost for no good reason and you had a front row seat for the action. Accordingly, the two firms settled with CTW shareholders last year for $624 million. KPMG, for its part, chipped in $24 million. That’s rumored to be in the ballpark of what John Veihmeyer spends every year on Notre Dame gear, so the firm was probably thinking it got off pretty easy. Unfortunately, things are just getting started since other countries hadn’t had a chance to jump into the mix.


From Zero Hedge:

Norway’s Government Pension Fund, which is another name for its Sovereign Wealth Fund, has just announced it is suing Bank of America for mortgage fraud. Not only that but it is also going after Countrywide, obviously, but far more importantly, is also suing KPGM [sic], the auditor on the Countrywide transaction, and, drumroll, ole’ Agent Orange himself [That’s former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo for those of you not up to speed].

So what, you say? Norway is just some Scandinavian wasteland with a lot of blondes and the occasional psychopath? Not the point!

[J]ust like the US lawsuit spigot opened ever so slowly at first, it is now gushing, and is absolutely certain that every company (ahem insolvent German banks) that ever bought a mortgage from Countrywide, Merrill and Bank of America will serve the local branch of the bank with a summons over the next month.

In other words, this little breakout may turn into a full-fledged epidemic.

Bank Of America’s Legal Woes Go Global After Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Sues For Mortgage Fraud [ZH]
Also see:
The Fund suing large bank in the U.S. for fraud [DN.NO (Beware, the translation is brutal)]

PwC, Crowe Horwath Sued for Colonial Bank Failure

Ed. note: Our permanently ink-stained wench is still struggling with Internet connectivity after a small storm swept through the DC area, so we now present the following post that is republished with permission from Jr. Deputy Accountant.

A-ha! I hate to say I told you so (no I don’t) but, uh, I told you so.

In August of 2009, I caught PwC digging around on my site to find out more about the Colonial Bank failure, a failure which PwC itself oversaw and maybe just participated in (if indirectly, naturally). The year before Colonial’s epic failure, PwC auditors gave the bank the all clear.

“In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements listed in the accompanying index present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of The Colonial BancGroup, Inc. and its subsidiaries at December 31, 2008 and 2007 and the results of their operations and their cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2008 in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America,” read the opinion.

Anyway, fast-forward two years and here we are:

Colonial Bancgroup Inc (CBCDQ.PK) and its trustee filed a lawsuit against former auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC and Crowe Horwath LLP, charging them with accounting malpractice and professional negligence for not catching a fraud that led to the bank’s collapse.

The complaint was filed late on Wednesday in a Circuit Court in Montgomery County, Alabama.

It also accuses the auditors of breach of contract, saying that PwC’s independent audits of its financial statements violated generally accepted accounting standards and served to conceal the seven-year fraud that drained it of $1.8 billion and left it with hundreds of millions of dollars in worthless or nonexistent assets on its balance sheet.

Can someone please tell me why the PCAOB still has a job with this nonsense going on? Furthermore, why does PwC make $13 billion a year soaking its clients with audit fees? And why aren’t the people of the United States suing the shit out of these auditors too? Colonial was the 6th largest bank failure in U.S. history and cost taxpayers $3.8 billion.

Anyone else find it funny how they call the audit service arm “Assurance”? It has nothing to do with discovering fraud or giving investors actual peace of mind that the statements they are looking at are, in fact, prepared in accordance with GAAP. Rather it is a mafia-style pay-to-play protection ring that offers clean audit opinions in exchange for cash.

Vomit. All over Dennis Nally’s impeccably polished wingtips.

Muslim Man Sues PwC for Discrimination, Destroying His Life

Maybe PwC should consider pulling up the stakes in Tampa:

A Muslim who was a PricewaterhouseCoopers senior manager was interviewed for an article about diversity in a company newsletter and then fired when he criticized his employer, his federal lawsuit says.

Issam Azziz, 37, wpany’s Tampa office, filed suit on Tuesday in U.S. District Court, alleging the company, now called PwC, discriminated against him because of his faith and race.

“What happened to me should not happen to any other person,” Azziz said in a news conference outside federal court. “They’ve gone out of their way to destroy my life.”

PwC has responded that “this lawsuit is without merit” (which I think is taught on the first day of Corporate Communications 101) and wouldn’t tell me much else but you get the feeling that this whole story is a bit of a dog and pony show. First of all, the press conference held by Mr. Azziz included appearances from his lawyer, Peter Helwig, the Tampa Chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations and Ahmed Bedier, “a civil rights activist” which seems to indicate that this was a well oiled PR offensive. Secondly, this press conference occurred less than a week after PwC told Tampa and the State of Florida to shove their subsidies. You don’t have to be too clever to put that one together.

Anyway, you can watch clips of the conference here and here (no embed code, sorry). If you watch the video, Mr. Azziz alleges (through the words of Mr. Bedier) that the company’s “fraternity mentality” that includes “overnight partying, binge drinking and gambling” feels a little hyperbolic but whatever. I spoke to Hassan Shibly, the CAIR representative that appeared with Mr. Azziz but he declined to go on the record. Peter Helwig has not yet returned my call.

The other little twist is that you get from the story is that Azziz claims that after he found another job, PwC got wind of it and were the ones behind his dismissal from that firm:

The lawsuit claims the company orchestrated his firing from a second firm that later hired him and has effectively blackballed him from getting any other job in his profession.

The company “retaliated against (Azziz) in reprisal for his opposition to (PwC’s) racial discrimination against persons who are Muslim or of Arab ethnicity,” the suit says.

Maybe I’m just not as paranoid as I used to be but a firm like PwC going out of its way to blackball one person seems like a stretch. I understand that this is Florida and I’m not a Muslim (i.e. they aren’t exactly popular with some people) but COME ON. PwC is far more interested in ruining the lives of its current employees – it’s called client service.

Suit accuses PricewaterhouseCoopers of discrimination against Arab-American [SPT]
PricewaterhouseCoopers discriminates, suit states [TBO]
Earlier:
PwC Decides It Doesn’t Want $1.1 Million in Free Money From Tampa After All
There Appears to Be Some Fuss About PwC Tapping $2 million in Subsidies Once They Spend $78 million and Hire 200 People

Former BDO Partner Gets Probation For Cheating on His Taxes

Poor BDO, they never get in the news. But hey, they do today!

Former BDO partner George Mark got off easy this week when U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer said he didn’t deserve to go to jail thanks to his “extraordinary” charitable efforts and remorse for his actions. Mark’s tax evasion was uncovered during an investigation into Pennsylvania beverage company Le-Nature’s, who apparently specialized in nepotism, ass water and fraud.

Mark will instead serve two years of probation and pay a fine of $30,000.

A federal jury recently found Le-Nature’s former president Robert B. Lynn guilty of 10 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. The jury found him not guilty on 10 additional fraud counts and deadlocked on five others, which left Senior U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch Jr. no other choice than to declare a mistrial on the remaining charges. The company’s CEO Gregory Podlucky and other company officers are facing prison for their part of a $37 million fraud.

While investigating Le-Nature’s ugly mess, the IRS found out that Mark declared fake travel expenses on his 2004, 2005 and 2006 tax returns for about $90,000. The IRS determined that Mark was living the gangsta lifestyle out in the Philly ‘burbs, rented an apartment in NYC, traveled a lot and owned a few luxury cars.

The U.S. attorney’s office had hoped the judge would come down with jail time in order to convince would-be tax cheats that this is serious business but the judge felt Mark’s volunteer efforts for Hope International and other charities was sufficient proof that he wasn’t all that bad of a guy, perhaps just a little misguided.

Back in 2008, 74 investors alleged fraud and negligent misrepresentation against Wachovia Capital Markets, Wachovia Securities and two accounting firms, Ernst & Young and BDO Seidman for their respective parts in the Le-Nature’s scam, in which company officers (mostly CEO Podlucky and his kin) would secure loans for business equipment only to turn around and use that money for things like, oh, sapphires and overpriced watches.

E&Y audited Le-Nature’s until BDO took over. “E&Y was aware that Podlucky could single-handedly influence or manipulate the company’s financial results …” charged the lawsuit. The company basically made up $240 million in revenue and BDO auditors declared the company’s financials were free of material misstatements. FAIL.

Anyway, congratulations to the former partner for, uh, being such a model human being. Or something.

Grant Thornton Dodges the Koss Bullet, Is Dismissed From Shareholder Lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman has dismissed Grant Thornton as a defendant in a class-action shareholder lawsuit against GT, Koss Corp. and CEO Michael J. Koss, filed in January 2010 on behalf of plaintiff David Puskala and other Koss shareholders.

In his ruling, Adelman stated that the plaintiffs failed to make a case for GT’s epic failure to detect former Koss executive Sue Sachdeva’s $34 million embezzlement/hoarding scheme. Reasonable, considering GT auditors scared the crap out of old Sue, even though they were sticking newbies on the gig.  “Fear was one thing. I thought it was imminent,” she said in a court deposition last year. “Their auditors, every time they walked in, I’d say, ‘This is it. They’re going to catch me.’” Shareholders’ issue – we assume – is that they didn’t. Year after year after year after year until 2009 rolled around and the whole house of cards came tumbling down.

The judge also dismissed claims of willful or reckless behavior against Michael Koss, saying “I conclude that the innocent explanations are more compelling than the inference of recklessness.” Meaning Mike couldn’t possibly have known Sue had been siphoning off millions in company money over a six year period, absent hanging out at her house and noticing all the fancy new shit she had strewn everywhere. And stashed in closets. And bursting out of her garage.

As for Grant Thornton, the judge wrote that the occurrence of fraud and failure to detect it doesn’t imply recklessness on the part of the accounting firm, but rather that the firm was negligent. While it is clear that Sachdeva used her position with Koss to bypass the company’s not-rock-solid internal controls, it is also believed that the controls were sufficient so as not to be obviously unreliable to a reasonable person (or auditor fresh out of accounting school). We’re looking forward to hearing how audit professors use this decision to emphasize the cavernous depth between “negligence” and “recklessness” on the part of auditors.

Sachdeva is still a defendant in the Puskala lawsuit and is currently serving 11 years for the fraud.

Grant Thornton dismissed from Koss shareholder lawsuit [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

LA Judge Rules Crash Producer Engaged in Creative Accounting

I don’t watch movies but coincidentally, I saw Crash and frankly it’s a miracle it made any money at all (not to mention three Academy Awards, but what do I know about movies?). That being said, L.A. Superior Court Judge Daniel Buckley has determined producer Bob Yari engaged in creative accounting, ruling that Yari did so as part of an intentional scheme to withhold money from director Paul Haggis, star Brendan Fraser and co-writer Bobby Moresco.

The plaintiffs’ suit alleged that Yari improperly withheld money owed to them for the 2005 film and while Buckley has ruled in their favor, the judge has not yet set a monetary reward for plaintiffs.

The judge was clear in his ruling (which can be read in its entirety at the Hollywood Reporter), calling out the defendants’ inability to correct blatant accounting mishaps and outright fraudulent practices:

Defendants breached the contracts with the plaintiffs by diverting funds to third parties; adopting bogus contractual interpretations; refusing to correct accounting errors in a timely manner; adopting inappropriate accounting procedures that were contrary to industry standards; and, ultimately, using all of these to avoid paying plaintiffs money due under contracts.

This isn’t the first trip to court for Yari, who was sued for $100,000 by Matt Dillon, who played a dickhead cop in the film. Dillon’s company, Matthias Productions, performed an audit in 2006 and found that executives “deliberately authorized [the production entity] to apply an incorrect formula for the calculation of [Dillon’s] contingent compensation” and therefore owed him a larger piece of the $98 million the film grossed worldwide.

Paul Haggis, Brendan Fraser Win ‘Crash’ Lawsuit Against Producer Bob Yari [THR]

Ernst & Young Is Really Wishing They Hadn’t Blown Off That Lehman Brothers Whistleblower

FT Alphaville found this notable quote from District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s opinion (whole thing after the jump):

The TAC alleges that Lee told E&Y in June 2008 “that Lehman moved $50 billion of inventory off its balance sheet at quarter-end through Repo 105 transactions and that these assets returned to the balance sheet about a week later.” Assuming that is so, E&Y arguably was on 308 notice by June 2008 that Lehman had used Repo 105s to portray its net leverage more favorably than its financial position warranted, a circumstance that could well have resulted in the published balance sheet for that quarter being inconsistent with GAAP’s overall requirement of fair presentation. Accordingly, the TAC adequately alleges that E&Y misrepresented in the 2Q08 that it was “not aware of any material modifications that should be made to the consolidated financial statements referred to above for them to be in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles” notwithstanding Lee’s disclosure to it.


“Lee” you may remember is Matthew Lee Lee, the Senior VP for Global Balance Sheet and Legal Entity Accounting who also said this about E&Y’s reaction to his warning on Repo 105:

They certainly didn’t support it. On the Repo 105 issue, they knew about it; they did not appear to know that the number was so large.

Ouch.

lehmanruling

Court Tosses Lawsuit Filed by Fired Tyco Accountant Who Wasn’t Interested in Being Responsible for Signing Off on a Party Featuring Mermaid Greeters, Wenches

Last summer we told you about a lawsuit that was filed by a fired Tyco accounting manager who claimed that he was let go after he refused to sign off on expenses related to an epic party in the Bahamas that had “Mermaid Greeters,” “Costumed Pirates/Wenches” a tatth “Limbo” and “fire” dancers and other, what some might call, “fun” or “awesome” things. The whole bash was going to run around $350,000 but Jeffrey Wiest wasn’t interested in being connected to another lavish party thrown by Tyco.

This is understandable because, as you well know, the AWESOME party in Tyco’s past was taped and it eventually wound up as evidence in a trial against Tyco Execs Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz. Those two men are currently wards of the state and Tyco is, for AWESOME or worse, simply known as the company that threw the Roman Orgy Party:

Investors footed about half the bill for that affair, which was disguised as a shareholder meeting and is now widely known as the Tyco Roman Orgy.

The party featured such indulgences as an ice sculpture modeled after Michelangelo’s David urinating top-shelf vodka. Against this backdrop in 2008, Jeffrey Wiest said he “refused to process a payment [for] and sent a note to his management questioning the legitimacy of a $350,000 event being held at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.”

“Wiest, as was virtually everyone else at Tyco and in the world, was cognizant of a similar party under Dennis Kozlowski’s management,” according to the manager’s July 2010 suit, first reported by Courthouse News. “He did not want to be any part of a repeat occurrence.”

As we mentioned, Wiest obviously had the foresight to conclude that news of a “Mermaid/Pirate/Wench Rape and Pillage Party” would not go over so well with anyone not in attendance and accordingly, refused to sign off on the expenses. Considering that there was “only one 1.5-hour business meeting during the entire five-day event,” it appears that Wiest made the right choice. However, Wiest claimed that the company started “investigating” him and shortly thereafter was told that his services were no longer needed.

Wiest took his story to the masses with an appearance on Fox Business where he showed how accountant-y (and unconvincing) he could be. The court that was hearing his lawsuit agreed:

“Mr. Wiest’s communications simply provided information and suggestions to ensure proper tax and accounting treatment of the Atlantis event expenses. As such, then, they did not rise to the level of ‘definitively and specifically’ conveying a reasonable belief that [a Sarbanes-Oxley crime] was taking place, notwithstanding Mr. Wiest’s conclusory assertion in the complaint that he had made ‘protected disclosures relating to fraudulent accounting practice, attempted shareholder fraud, and lack of compliance with United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.'”

Definitely a setback for Wiest who, it appears, won’t be recouping any lost income here and will forever have the reputation as a party pooper. And the latter could be a far worse fate.

Tyco Accountant Loses Retaliation Suit [CNS]

Fired Marc Jacobs CFO Will Have You Know That Deloitte Never Complained About His Work

Last month we told you about Patrice Lataillade, the former Marc Jacobs CFO who was fired, he claims, because he complained about all the porn floating around the office, mandatory pole dances forced upon employees and various other things. Lataillade has sued the company saying that after he complained about the rampant lewdness, he was later told that his services were no longer needed.

The company disputes this, saying that Lataillade was actually doing a little double-entry magic for about $20 million or so in order to earn himself a nicer bonus. Lataillade has now pulled a Chinese stunt of sorts, claiming that Deloitte said everything was hunky dory and that should convince anyone that doubts his CFO prowess:

Lataillade and his lawyers said that the company, which fired Lataillade last September, never had any trouble with his monitoring of its finances in his long tenure at Marc Jacobs International. His work was checked and rechecked not only by accountants for LVMH, the French luxury conglomerate that owns Marc Jacobs International, but also by the company’s accounting firm Deloitte and Touch [sic]. Lataillade claims he never heard a complaint about his performance, and that he was really fired for speaking out against sexual discrimination at work.

Fired Marc Jacobs Exec Says Company Is Ignoring The Facts [Styleite]

Court Finds That PwC Might Have a ‘Macho Culture’ But It Didn’t Discriminate Against a Former Partner Who Was Basically Having a Nervous Breakdown

Last year we told you about Colin Tenner who was suing PwC on the grounds of disability discrimination. If you remember, back in 2009 Tenner was told his services were no longer needed after he took some sick time due to depression and severe stress that was a result of a client he was serving and his bosses inside P. Dubs. Tenner’s fellow partners allegedly weren’t impressed by this pansyness, as one partner said “real partners don’t get sick.”

While the judge in the tribunal said that some of these partners “were clearly at the end of the queue when tact and sensitivity were being handed out,” it wasn’t enough to constitute discrimination and Tenner’s suit was thrown out.

An industrial tribunal found that while there may have been a “macho culture within the firm”, it did not accept Mr Tenner had been discriminated against. […] [T]he tribunal said there was no evidence that any of the witnesses for PWC “showed any animosity, prejudice, or intolerance to disabled persons”.

In other words, they weren’t saying “that skitzo retard shouldn’t be calling in sick.” Apparently that’s what was needed here.

PWC partner’s discrimination case is dismissed [BBC]

Plaintiff in PwC Overtime Lawsuit Made a ‘Serious Error’ on One Engagement, Was Eventually Fired for Poor Performance

Yesterday we learned that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of PwC in the matter of Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the wage and hour class-action lawsuit filed in California. It’s a pretty major win for P. Dubs and the decision remands the case back to district court for trial. I was skimming over the 9th Circuit’s Decision in case over at Leagle and found some interesting things that I thought were worth sharing including some details about the named-plaintiff’s performance. The following anecdote seems to support the firm’s argument that unlicensed associates must “exercise discretion and independent judgment” and if they don’t, they will be held responsible:

PwC […] argues Plaintiffs perform analytical work “integral” to PwC’s Attest services. To the extent Plaintiffs do not regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment during an audit engagement, PwC says they are failing to meet the firm’s expectations. PwC emphasizes the variety of duties performed by Plaintiffs during an engagement and claims the failure to perform those tasks adequately can have “significant consequences” for PwC’s clients. During one engagement, for example, named-plaintiff Campbell overlooked approximately $500,000 in the client’s unrecorded liabilities. This oversight, which Campbell himself described as a “serious error,” was ultimately discovered by another team member. The error required a late financial adjustment and made the client unhappy.

While working for PwC, Campbell and Sobek each received some criticism over their job performance. In addition to the mistake described above, Campbell earned a “Less Than Expected” rating during his 2006 annual performance review. Sobek received the same rating during her 2005 review. More generally, PwC alleges both named-plaintiffs consistently fell below the firm’s expectations for Attest associates.

Campbell was terminated by PwC in 2006 for poor performance. Sobek resigned from the firm that same year.

Obviously just because Jason Campbell and Sarah Sobek both had performance ratings of “Less Than Expected” and that Mr. Campbell was fired does not mean that all 2,000 members of the class-action were of similar ratings. Regardless, it’s an interesting little nugget of information that we were not previously aware.

The rest of the opinion is pretty analytical, labor law stuff, so if you’re into that, the whole thing is worth a read, otherwise you can discuss as you wish below.

Ninth Circuit Rules for PwC in California Overtime Lawsuit

Reuters reports:

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed [a lower court decision] on Wednesday, ruling that PwC is entitled to litigate whether the unlicensed accountants can be exempted from overtime laws. The 9th Circuit remanded the case back to a district court in Sacramento, Calif. for more proceedings.

So, no this isn’t over. The actual trial still hasn’t gone down but this is definitely a big win for PwC.

A firm spokesperson provided us with the following statement: “PwC is pleased that the Ninth Circuit supported its arguments in this important case. The firm greatly values these employees and considers their work an integral part of PwC’s success.” An attempt to reach counsel for the plaintiffs was not immediately returned. Will keep you updated with any new details as we learn them.

Previous Coverage:
Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers

KPMG, Center for Audit Quality Weren’t Too Keen on PCAOB Inspection Documents Being Subpoenaed

Last week, we told you about Jonathan Weil’s latest scoop exposing a PCAOB issuer in an inspection report. The issuer in question was Motorola and it, once again, featured KPMG as the auditor on the receiving end of the Board’s criticism. It was also noted that PCAOB Chair Jim Doty mentioned this particular case (without naming names) in his speech at USC the previous week when he described “one large firm tam was aware that a significant contract was not signed until the early hours of the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the audit partner allowed the company to book the transaction in the third quarter, which allowed the company to meet its earnings target.”

J Dubs put this all together in a nice little package, citing court documents from a class-action lawsuit in Chicago. What isn’t mentioned in Weil’s column but is spelled out in other court documents that we’ve reviewed is that KPMG and the Center of Audit Quality fought the release of the documents related to the PCAOB’s inspection report because they’re afraid that more lawsuits could result if issuers’ identities are made public.

The CAQ submitted an amicus curiae brief (in full on the next page) stating:

The supervisory model of regulation created by Sarbanes-Oxley and implemented by the PCAOB has thus far worked well and has improved the quality and reliability of audits of public companies. It has worked to the satisfaction of both the Board and the regulated community.

Since the PCAOB’s own Investor Advisory Group issued a report entitled “The Watchdog that Didn’t Bark … Again,” one might say that the Center’s final point is debatable.

Yet, the CAQ argued that if the PCAOB inspection documents were released, “the [Sarbanes-Oxley] Act’s carefully supervisory model will be adversely affected.” That is, the confidentiality afforded to the communication between auditors and the PCAOB would be compromised and would allow Board information into the ‘hands of litigating lawyers.’ The CAQ declined to comment for this post, saying that they did not “have anything to add to the amicus brief.”

In her ruling denying KPMG’s motion (in full, on page 3) to squash the subpoena of the PCAOB documents, Judge Amy St. Eve cited KPMG’s argument that sounds very similar to the CAQ’s:

KPMG argues that “if litigants can compel production of materials related to the PCAOB’s confidential inspection process notwithstanding section 105(b)(5)(A), open and constructive engagement between the PCAOB and accounting firms could be chilled by the threat of increased civil litigation, and the statutory framework carefully crafted by Congress to improve the quality of public company audits could be frustrated.”

So basically auditors are afraid that if their super-special-secret discussions with the PCAOB are out there for all the world to see, they’ll get sued more often. But hasn’t suing audit firms already reached critical mass? Can they really fear more litigation? The only thing that keeps audit firms from being on the same level of litigation risk as tobacco companies is that they aren’t killing people.

Weil and those that agree with him argue that the PCAOB owes it to investors to name names in their inspection reports. To continue keeping issuers confidential protects them from legitimate criticism for shoddy accounting and perpetuating equally shoddy audits. Of course, if you’re an investor and that doesn’t bother you, then maybe you’re okay with auditors trying to stop the release of more information related to their work. Work that cost the investors in Motorola $244 million from 2000 to 2010.

caqamicusbrief

Minute Order 1

You Can Add ‘Hospital Staff’ to the List of Positions That Can Do the Job of a Deloitte Auditor

A hospital in Winnipeg is suing Deloitte after an ATM scam went undiscovered for over ten years. Luckily some vigilant RN, janitor or cafeteria worker (it’s not clear from the article) noticed something amiss and alerted the proper authorities.

Police arrested a long-time hospital employee last year after she allegedly skimmed $1.5 million from automated teller machine (ATM) deposits between 2000 and 2010.

According to a lawsuit filed last week, the fraud was uncovered by hospital staff, not the auditor. The lawsuit accuses Deloitte & Touche of preparing financial statements not in accordance with “generally accepted accounting principles” and “materially misleading” the hospital about its financial position.

“MHC says that D & T owed it a duty in contract and owed it a duty of care not to act negligently or make negligent misrepresentations to MHC and to ensure that cash and liquid assets as reported in the financial statements were not materially misstated.”

According to the lawsuit, a former finance clerk deposited Worker’s Compensation Board cheques into the hospital operated ATM, understated the amount and pocketed the difference.

All this trouble and no one was even taken hostage. Not good, Green Dot.

Misericordia Health Centre files suit against auditor [Winnipeg Sun]

(UPDATE) KPMG Sued for $350 Million in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

~Update includes KPMG statement.

Former KPMG Senior Manager Donna Kassman is suing the firm in the Southern District of New York. She worked for the firm for seventeen years, resigning in October 2010 after “relentless gender discrimination and harassmentle, and it was clear that the Company had no interest in remedying the situation.”

Plaintiff Kassman alleges that KPMG engages in systemic discrimination against its female Managers, including but not limited to Managers, Senior Managers and Managing Directors. The lawsuit is intended to change KPMG’s discriminatory pay and promotion policies and practices, as well as its systemic failure to properly investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and harassment. The Plaintiff is filing this action on behalf of a class of thousands of current and former female employees who have worked as Managers at KPMG from 2008 through the date of judgment.

Ms. Kassman and the class are represented by Janette Wipper, Siham Nurhussein, and Deepika Bains of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP and they don’t spare the details:

Despite Plaintiff Kassman’s long tenure and stellar performance, KPMG refused to promote her along the partnership track. Ms. Kassman’s supervisors repeatedly told her throughout 2008 and 2009 that she was next in line for a promotion to Managing Director. Around the time Ms. Kassman was to be promoted, however, two male employees complained that she was “unapproachable” and “too direct,” thinly-veiled gender-based criticisms designed to derail her career advancement. Based on these unfounded, discriminatory comments, KPMG removed Ms. Kassman from the promotion track, subjected her to numerous hostile interrogations, and advised her to meet with a “coach” to work on her supposed issues. Instead of disciplining the two male employees for their campaign of harassment, KPMG rewarded them by putting them up for promotion.

KPMG’s female Managers are not only under-promoted, but underpaid as well. In one particularly egregious act of discrimination, KPMG slashed Ms. Kassman’s base salary by $20,000 while she was on maternity leave because she was paid “too much.” KPMG cited no business justification for slashing her salary. When Ms. Kassman complained about the salary cut, her male supervisor asserted that she did not need the money because she “ha[d] a nice engagement ring.”

“Unfortunately, Ms. Kassman’s story is completely representative of the treatment of women at KPMG,” Siham Nurhussein said. “Ms. Kassman repeatedly complained up the chain of command about the gender discrimination and harassment she was experiencing, and the Company reacted with neither surprise nor concern. Her supervising Partner told her matter-of-factly that her male colleague might have a problem working with women, and the Office of Ethics and Compliance told Ms. Kassman that men had ganged up on women at KPMG before. KPMG not only tolerates gender discrimination, but displays an active interest in perpetuating it.”

In addition to the systematic discrimination faced by female Managers at KPMG, female employees with children also face discrimination based on their status as caregivers and/or being pregnant. After she gave birth to her first child, Ms. Kassman’s career advancement at KPMG came to a screeching halt. Without any warning or provocation, KPMG abruptly cut her salary while she was on maternity leave and placed her on a Performance Improvement Plan upon her return to work. Ms. Kassman felt that she had no choice but to move to a “flexible” schedule, under which she retained all the responsibilities of a full-time employee, but was paid less. KPMG frequently touted Ms. Kassman as a role model for other working mothers, even though one of the Partners acknowledged that women on flexible schedules were “not going to get anywhere [at KPMG].”

An email to a KPMG spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

UPDATE: KPMG spokesman George Ledwith provided us with the following statement, “KPMG is recognized as a leader for its strong commitment to supporting women in the workplace. In fact, among the Big Four accounting firms, KPMG is tied with the highest percentage of women partners. We believe this lawsuit is entirely without merit.”

We’ll keep you updated with any developments.

Investors in Allen Stanford’s (Alleged) Ponzi Scheme Sue BDO

Nearly two years after Texas financier Allen Stanford was indicted in an alleged massive Ponzi scheme, investors have just filed a $10 billion proposed class action suit against his auditor—the giant accounting firm BDO.

The suit—filed Thursday in federal court in Dallas—says BDO did not only aid and abet the $7 billion dollar fraud…it was a “co-conspirator.” “BDO’s cozy relationship with the Stanford Financial Group was steeped in conflicts of interest and required ongoing deceptive and duplicitous manipulation of the facts to allow the Ponzi scheme’s exponential growth for over a decade,” the complaint says. “The result of this deception is the loss of thousands of investors’ life savings.” [CNBC]

Man Sues IRS for Giving Him a Headache

Before you start ringing up the lawyers, you should know what this guy’s head pain was caused by something that Doug Shulman has very little control over.

A New Orleans resident has filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service after a portable office wall fell and struck him in the head. Willie B. Jolliff, Jr. filed suit against Internal Revenue Services, East Skelly and Jones, Lang, LaSalle Americas Inc. on May 16 in federal court in New Orleans.

According to the lawsuit, Jolliff was hurt by the wall on May 15, 2010, resulting in headaches and a neck injury.

The IRS is accused of negligence by failing to maintain a safe environment for office visitors, failing to properly maintain and secure the portable office wall and failing to warn of a potentially dangerous condition.

IRS customer claims headaches in personal injury suit [Louisiana Record]

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]

Navistar Says Deloitte Sucks at Auditing; Deloitte Not Amused

Last week Navistar International Corp. sued Deloitte for $500 million alleging “fraud, fraudulent concealment, breach of contract and malpractice” on audits from 2002 to 2005. That, in and of itself, isn’t too unusual. What is pretty fun (not fun in a “man, the circus is fun” kind of way but in “you’ve gotta love this stuff” kind of way) is when a company comes right out and says that Deloitte lied about its competency to provide audit services.

Bloomberg reports:

In other words, not only is Navistar saying that Deloitte is a buncha liars, they’re saying, “Biggest accounting firm in the world, you say? How about the suckiest accounting firm in the world?” They’re saying that Deloitte isn’t qualified to be in business. In essence, that the firm shouldn’t even exist. Because such fighting words simply can’t be taken sitting down, Deloitte spokesman Jonathan Gandal emailed the ‘Berg (which is good because he never calls us back) to express the firm’s position:

“A preliminary review shows it to be an utterly false and reckless attempt to try to shift responsibility for the wrongdoing of Navistar’s own management,” Gandal said in an e-mailed statement. “Several members of Navistar’s past or present management team were sanctioned by the SEC for the very matters alleged in the complaint.”

HA! Now who’s a bunch a liars? So who’s really to blame here in this round of ‘liar, liar pants on fire’? Well, over at Fraud Files Blog, our friend Tracy Coenen tries to shed some light on this spat:

Navistar’s story about the fraud seems to keep changing. Early on in the case, the company denied wrongdoing and said the problem was with “complicated” rules under Sarbanes-Oxley. I’m not sure how SOX is to blame for management having secret side agreements with its suppliers who received “rebates.” Or improperly booking income from tooling buyback agreements, while not booking expenses related to the tooling. Or not booking adequate warranty reserves. Or failing to record certain project costs.

And now the company says Deloitte is to blame.

Here’s what’s funny about lawsuits like this: They essentially say… Our employees committed fraud and actively took steps to avoid discovery by the auditors. The auditors did not discover the fraud (at all, or soon enough), and now we’re going to hold them responsible for that failure.

In the case of Navistar, the each of the fraudulent accounting schemes above are nearly impossible to detect. The company failed to book items or provide information about them to the auditors, yet they are suing the auditors for failing to find the items.

So it appears that Navistar was expecting Deloitte to have some magical powers of fraud detection that even the likes of Tracy or Sam Antar don’t possess. Does that make them incompetent? You tell us.

Navistar Sues Its Former Auditor Deloitte & Touche [Bloomberg]
Navistar v Deloitte: Blame the auditors for fraud committed and concealed by employees [Fraud Files Blog]

McGladrey Suing Three ‘Rainmakers’ Who Defected to JH Cohn

That, according to a report in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal:

At risk are millions of dollars, the company’s reputation and the entire health care practice now led by a Minneapolis partner, according to a lawsuit recently filed by the accounting, consulting and tax firm against the three rainmakers who went to New York-based J.H. Cohn. Bloomington-based McGladrey and the former partners said they’d rather not discuss the dispute. Public records show that McGladrey is seeking a federal court order to keep the partners away from their clients

And unfortunately, that’s all we know. The MSTPBJ is behind a paywall (and my publisher is currently not springing for a membership) so we can’t really tell you much more than that. But we do love a good Benedict Arnold story, so we called around and are anxiously awaiting both firms to call us back. In the meantime, if you’re in the know get in touch or discuss below.

Oral Arguments Heard in Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers

~ Update below with link to audio of the proceedings

Last month we caught you up on Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the wage and hour lawsuit filed by employees of the firm, claiming to be non-exempt and thus available for overtime. Oral arguments were heard today at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and it marks the most recent step in a case that could have wide repercussions in California. Francine McKenna has a good rundown over at Forbes, including sta��������������������rshaw, the plaintiffs’ attorney. PwC and their lead counsel, Dan Thomasch of Orrick, have declined to comment at this time.

In today’s proceedings, both sides were allowed to make their arguments and answered questions from a three-judge panel. We’ve obtained the briefs for both sides and we’ll give you a taste of each. First, from the plaintiffs:

PwC argues that Attest Associates satisfy the Professional Exemption because—notwithstanding the routine and nondiscretionary nature of their work—PwC claims that they are functionally indistinguishable from fully licensed accountants, doctors, lawyers, and engineers. As a matter of law, however, the text, structure, and drafting history of the Professional Exemption limit its application to licensed accountants, and Associates are not licensed. Second, PwC argues that Attest Associates satisfy the Wage Order’s Administrative Exemption because they work “under only general supervision” despite up to six layers of managers who are responsible for Associates’ work. That argument fails, however, because PwC has not pointed to sufficient evidence to create a triable issue of fact that Associates “work along specialized or technical lines”—much less that they do so “under only general supervision”—as required by the Administrative Exemption.

The argument goes into detail from there addressing three key arguments: 1) The Professional Exemption Does Not Apply to Attest Associates; 2) The Administrative Exemption Does Not Apply to Attest Associates; 3) The Rules Governing Professions Other Than Accounting Do Not Help PwC. You can see the brief in its entirety on the next pages.

PwC addresses all three arguments in their brief; this is a portion from the brief’s introduction:

Put simply, nothing in the Wage Order precludes unlicensed accountants from being shown to be exempt under subsection (b) of the Professional Exemption. Plaintiffs’ argument that the “drafting history” of the wage order at issue shows an intention on the part of the [Industrial Welfare Commission] to prohibit unlicensed accountants from being professionally exempt should be rejected, because the language and structure of the Professional Exemption are not ambiguous, and contain no such prohibition. Even the District Court did not accept Plaintiffs’ tortured reading of the text of the Professional Exemption, or claim to find unambiguous intent on the part of the [Industrial Welfare Commission] to exclude from eligibility for the Professional Exemption all unlicensed members of the accounting profession — and inevitably by extension, all unlicensed lawyers, doctors, dentists, optometrists, architects, engineers, and teachers. Doing so is flatly contrary to the overriding principle governing application of exemptions from overtime provisions, which is to consider individual employees’ work duties.

And their brief outlines a direct counter to the plaintiffs’ brief: 1) Plaintiffs’ Argument That Accountants Can Only Qualify for a Professional Exemption Under Subsection (a) Is Unsupportable 2) PwC Is Entitled to Show That Its Attest Associates Satisfy the “General Supervision” Requirement of the Administrative Exemption; 3) The Impact of the District Court’s Order Is Not Limited to the Profession of Accounting.

So what we’ve got here is…failure to agree on how the ambiguous (or not) California law is and how it applies specifically to unlicensed audit associates. Are they really just cogs in the wheel, bowing to their superiors as the plaintiffs argue? Or are they responsible professionals who are engaged in a challenging occupation that warrants exemption? The 9th Circuit will have transcripts and audio from the proceedings available on its website at some point tomorrow and we’ll update this post with them when they’re available. As for a resolution, it will be several months before we find out what the 9th Circuit rules and then, there’s still a trial to be had. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Audio is now available for those interested. You can listen to the proceedings here.

2010 01 29 Br of Appellees

Efiled Reply Brief

Partner Shows Amazing Restraint After Former Colleague Calls Him a Thief and a Liar

Sometimes when there is a dispute among partners of an accounting firm, things can get a little ugly. Sure there’s the sleeping with the other’s spouse/pool boy problems that crop up from time to time but that’s nothing compared to a situation when there’s actually a business reputation, financial considerations and possible federal criminal charges at stake.

Such is the case involving a former tax director at TCBA Watson Rice LLP with the firm’s managing partner. Patrick Largie tasked with preparing the firm’s 2009 tax return and when he got to the “Other Deductions” (line 20, for those of you scoring at home) he noticed a suspicious $1.8 million figure. After investigating further, he determined the amount was ‘inaccurate and false’ that could possibly bring “an IRS investigation and possible criminal charges.” As a result, he brought it to managing partner Bennie Hadnott’s attention. Hadnott didn’t feel it was anything worth raising a fuss over and demanded that Largie sign the return and go on his merry way.

Largie refused and was promptly fired. And yes, of course he sued. But Bennie Hadnott is treating the lawsuit much like he treated the $1.8 million Other Deductions – it’s NBD:

Hadnott labeled the claims “a nuisance lawsuit” and said the dispute was going into mediation on February 4.

“You get those filed all the time,” he said. “You can’t control what people go out there and do. We filed an answer to that, but there was no merit to it. He got mad because he was terminated with cause. People get emotional and go out there and try to sue the whole world, which he did. You have no control over people going out there and filing actions like that.”

So, despite his former colleague sullying the fine TCBA Watson Rice name and also accusing him of misappropriating $500k through bogus loans, Hadnott won’t have it, is taking the high road even though he could make Largie’s life difficult:

Hadnott hinted that Largie’s lawsuit came in retaliation after the firm learned of his actions and dismissed him, but he declined to elaborate on the firm’s claims. “I can really prosecute him for smearing our name, but we are just trying to be cool about it,” he said. “We don’t want to drag him through the mud.”

Other than the part where you make him look like a perfectionist, litigious, asshole crybaby, his name should be just fine.

Partner Sues Firm over Termination [AT]

Jackson Hewitt Doesn’t Appreciate the Implication That They Suck at Preparing Tax Returns

Call it the discount 1040 wars (or something):

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc sued H&R Block Inc to stop a new advertising campaign that it said misleads customers about tax refund loans and disparages Jackson Hewitt’s competence.


How disparaging? How about “two-thirds of the tax returns are wrong” disparaging:

According to the complaint, H&R Block falsely claimed that its “Second Look Review” program, which reviews past tax returns prepared by rivals, found that two-thirds of prior returns prepared by Jackson Hewitt contained mistakes.

“H&R Block’s 2 out of 3 claim necessarily implies the false claim that two out of three Jackson Hewitt customers who are entitled to refunds have been short-changed due to Jackson Hewitt errors or incompetence,” the complaint said.

Jackson Hewitt sues H&R Block over ads [MSNBC]

Your Creepy IRS Agent of the Day

Another poorly thought out advance by a man on a woman worthy of these pages.

A 60-year-old IRS agent has been ordered to pay $476,000 in damages after a former tenant sued him for invasion of privacy. The ruling was issued during a recent civil trial in Broward County. According to records, 27-year-old Miranda Goldston found a hidden camera in a DVD/VCR player that came with the three-bedroom townhouse she rented from Kenneth Ryals. The tiny camera hidden in the DVD/VCR was pointed a Goldston’s bed.

Earlier:
Accountant Seeking Sexual Favors Rebuffed; Pelted with Flip-flops

PwC Partner Says His Lack of Whiteness Stifled His Pay; Sues Firm

Ahhhhh, the race card. Just when you think it’s maxed out, another swipe is attempted.

Dunstan Pedropillai, is a partner in PwC’s London office who early in his career was labeled ‘a rising star’ and a ‘star performer’ is suing the firm because, he claims, he doesn’t fit in with the ‘collegiate club-like corporate culture.’ Simply put – his lack of whiteness and Britishness is holding him back. But things weren’t always this way, it seems. The firm reportedly went out of their way to admit him as a partner a year early in 1997. Everything was going swell until he returned from Japan in 2001 when all of a sudden his non-pale face, seemingly, started affecting his career:

‘The original culture of the firm is an extremely strong collegiate club-like corporate culture which has its roots in Anglo-Saxon male culture, which is the major composition of the firm.’ Of his return from Japan, he said: ‘It was as if they had already formed a view that I was not a ”member of the club” or that in some way my face did not fit. The firm felt they could not put me in front of blue-chip top tier clients – they felt as a non-white I didn’t look right.’

Of course it was entirely possible that Dunstan was slipping a bit:

By 2003 his rating at the firm had dropped to the bottom level available for a partner. In 2004 he received a bad appraisal for dating a colleague, Marina, now his wife, without revealing the seriousness of the relationship to his boss.

So we all know that dipping your pen in the company ink, while potentially tricky (not to mention common), is NBD and Dunstan was ultimately given a pass on this but still wasn’t satisfied and that’s when decided to threaten the firm with a suit. This was received rather coolly by PwC, who reciprocated with their own threat to fire him if he went ahead with the lawsuit slapping. He called P. Dubs bluff (apparently he still has his job) and now PwC is taking the gloves off, saying that Dunstan just started sucking and he should be thanking his lucky stars that he still has a job and his £933,480 salary:

Suzanne McKie, representing PwC, said the firm denied that Mr Pedropillai’s career stalled because of his ethnicity and put it down to his ‘poor people skills’. She said that the poor global economy meant Mr Pedropillai’s unit grew only marginally, and that two of his white peers were made redundant, while another, who had returned from working abroad at the same time as Mr Pedropillai, had been forced to move to Australia because there was no work for him in London. She said the £100,000, or 12 per cent, pay cut received by Mr Pedropillai last year was roughly in line with the eight per cent salary drop received by partners across the board and that he had a low role grade because he refused to accept any negative feedback.

£1million accountant who blames racism for limiting his pay [Daily Mail]

Suing Big 4 Auditors Hasn’t Gone as Well as Investors Hoped

Sure, there are settlements here and there but not the big KA-CHING! investors are looking for.

Lawsuits have been dismissed against Deloitte & Touche over its audits of mortgage financier Fannie Mae, as well as a case against PricewaterhouseCoopers accusing it of helping hide risks at insurer American International Group. KPMG settled a lawsuit stemming from its audits of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp, now part of Bank of America, for a relatively modest amount. “Every time somebody comes up with a new fraudulent scheme, auditors miss it,” said Andrea Kim, a partner at law firm Diamond McCarthy LLP in Houston who represents plaintiffs in auditor lawsuits. “The historical pattern is that they find a way to manage the litigation to limit their liability.”

Analysis: Big wins elude investors in auditor lawsuits [Reuters]

(UPDATE 2) Outlook 2011: How Will the 9th Circuit Rule in Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers?

~ Update includes oral argument date included in third paragraph

~ Update 2 includes correction of the spelling of “Stepan Mekhitarian” under the list of amicus briefs for the plaintiffs.

One of the stories that we’ve covered with interest since the launch of Going Concern has been the wage and hour lawsuits in California. For those needing a refresher, these are suits that were brought by non-licensed associates against various accounting firms (list of cases at bottom of this post) included who believe they were misclassified under California law as exempt professionals and are due overtime and other benefits due to non-exempt empltle differently, “I worked a ton of hours during busy season and all I got was sleep deprivation, a fat ass and I still don’t have a CPA so, pretty please, I’d like a little more money.”


Every once in awhile we get asked about the status of these cases and since it’s been a few months almost a year since our last post, we thought we’d update you briefly. You may remember that the main case, Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, is currently with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on interlocutory appeal over the issue of whether “learned professionals” can be defined as an exempt employees.

We recently spoke with a source familiar with the defense’s strategy in this case and learned that the two sides are to give oral arguments before the court sometime early this year on February 15th, after which, the Court will likely render its decision in the latter part of 2011 (everyone’s hoping, anyway). Regardless of the decision in the 9th Circuit, the case will go back to the trial court, so get comfortable.

While the developments in the case have been slow, it is interesting to note that both sides are both confident in their chances of victory in the 9th Circuit and make no mistake, it’s an important ruling. If the 9th Circuit were to rule in the favor of the plaintiffs, it could very well be a quick resolution, as the plaintiffs’ attorney, Bill Kershaw told us in July 2009, “the likelihood of the case resolving itself prior to trial would substantially increase,” although, our source disagreed with this sentiment, so we’re counting on a battle.

Something else worth noting (that we may have glossed over in prior posts) is that there are suits brought in both state and federal court. The main difference being that at the state level, once a suit is classified as a class-action, individuals are classified as plaintiffs until they opt out while the cases at the federal level are “collective action” where once a particular group of people are identified as plaintiffs, they are given the chance to opt in to participate in the lawsuit. In other words, employees of a firm who are thought to be non-exempt under California law, are automatically members of the class-action in state court while in federal court, potential plaintiffs have to choose to participate voluntarily. This makes the federal cases broader in scope geographically but trials at the state level will have a larger number of members in the class-action, which could mean a larger settlement.

Finally, some additional new information that we have to pass along are the organizations that filed amicus briefs on behalf of both parties. Here are the groups that filed amicus briefs on behalf of both parties; the notables being the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AICPA for PwC:

Organizations Filing Amicus Briefs in Support of PwC

1. Employers Group, Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, and California Chamber of Commerce (one brief)

2. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

3. California Employment Law Council

Organizations Filing Amicus Briefs in Support of Plaintiffs

1. California Employment Lawyers Association

2. Former Commissioner of the California Industrial Welfare Commission (Barry Broad) and Former Chief Counsels of the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (Miles Locker and H. Thomas Cadell) (one brief)

3. Brandy Blaske, David Lee, Julia Longnecker, Stephan Stepan Mekhitarian, and Svetlana V. Murphy (all are Plaintiffs in Mekhitarian, et al. v. Deloitte & Touche, a proposed class action involving D&T’s Tax line of service)

So while it will be some time before we’ll see a ruling in Campbell this year, not to mention a resolution at the trial level, you can bet lots of unlicensed PwC employees will be working plenty of hours this busy season.

Wage & Hour Lawsuits

Making Sense of the Ernst & Young Defense

Over at Bloomberg, Jonathan Weil (who has the tendency to let the dust settle before chiming in) takes Ernst & Young to task for their lack of willingness to take responsibility for the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and digs up a bunch of old bodies in the process.

E&Y had established itself as a repeat offender long before Governor-Elect Cuomo filed his suit. In recent years we’ve seen four former E&Y partners sentenced to prison for selling illegal tax shelters, while other partners have been disciplined by the SEC for blessing fraudulent financial statements at a variety of companies, including Cendant Corp. and Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp.

In the Bally case, E&Y last year paid an $8.5 million fine, without admitting or denying the SEC’s professional-misconduct claims. The SEC also has imposed sanctions against E&Y three times since 2004 for violating its auditor-independence rules.

After that friendly reminder (which certainly makes some people wince), JW takes a look at the E&Y’s response to the suit, specifically the part where they more or less say that Cuomo is off his rocker, “There is no factual or legal basis for a claim to be brought against an auditor in this context where the accounting for the underlying transaction is in accordance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).”

Weil says E&Y is missing the point entirely:

That isn’t an accurate depiction of the claims Cuomo brought, though. Cuomo’s suit unambiguously took the position that Lehman violated GAAP. What’s more, it’s not credible for E&Y to say that Lehman didn’t. (An E&Y spokesman, Charles Perkins, said he “can’t comment beyond our statement.”)

In the footnotes to its audited financial statements, Lehman said it accounted for all its repurchase agreements as financings. This was false, because Lehman accounted for its Repo 105 transactions as sales, a point the Valukas report chronicled in exhaustive detail.

The question is, of course, if this all adds up to fraud on E&Y’s part. Cuomo says it does. Weil says that E&Y needs to come up with a better story. Colin Barr, on the other hand, writes that E&Y could easily turn the tables:

The Ernst & Young statement suggests the firm will argue that it can’t be prosecuted under the Martin Act because Lehman, not E&Y, was the outfit actually producing the financial reports, and because it was Lehman, not E&Y, that was peddling billions of dollars of securities just months before its implosion.

In this view, E&Y was just a gatekeeper hired to vouch for Lehman’s books, something it will claim it did well within the confines of the law. This strikes lawyers who are familiar with the law as an eminently reasonable approach, if not exactly a surefire recipe for success.

“If I were Ernst & Young, I would assert I was not a primary actor,” said Margaret Bancroft, a partner at Dechert LLP and author of a 2004 memo that explained the Martin Act soon after Spitzer began brandishing it against Wall Street. “You can say that with more than a straight face.”

“Just gatekeepers,” and not “fraudsters,” is obviously the preferred view but the catch is, E&Y would be admitting that they are really shitty gatekeepers.

Cuomo Checks Ernst & Young Off the Hit List

Or throws another scalp on the pile, whatever you prefer.

The Journal is obviously very cozy with the Governor-elect:

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit against Ernst & Young for civil fraud Tuesday, accusing one of the nation’s largest accounting firms of helping Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. hide its financial weakness from investors for about seven years before the bank finally collapsed in September of 2008.

Ernst & Young knew about, supported and advised Lehman on its “Rs, a type of debt the bank took on, but labeled as sales, which made the firm appear to investors less risky than it really was, according to the complaint. The audit firm also stood by while Lehman misled analysts and investors on conference calls and in financial filings about its levels of risk, particularly after the firm’s stability began to crack after the credit crisis began in 2007, said the complaint.

“Ernst & Young substantially assisted Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., now bankrupt, to engage in a massive accounting fraud,” Mr. Cuomo wrote in his complaint.

Now that the AG has pulled the trigger on this, we’re wondering what’s next. E&Y still isn’t talking, other than the statement they’ve been giving since the bankruptcy examiner’s report came out in March. One comment suggested a settlement in the nine figure range which would put them in proximity of the DOJ’s fine of KPMG back in 2005.

Colin Barr over a Fortune reports that Cuomo wants at least the audit fees back ($150 million, according to the complaint):

The complaint, filed in state Supreme Court, seeks the repayment of at least $150 million in fees the audit firm collected between 2001, when Lehman’s aggressive accounting began, and 2008, when the venerable bank collapsed, precipitating a global bank run.

“Our lawsuit seeks to recover the fees collected by Ernst & Young while it was supposed to be using accountable, honest measures to protect the public,” said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Something tells us that Cuomo won’t be satisfied by simply the audit fees; we’re talking about the largest bankruptcy in history, after all. If you feel like ballparking the fine, we wouldn’t turn away any outlandish guesses.

UPDATE: Felix Salmon also points out E&Y’s lack of communicado:

E&Y knew this was coming—we all did—but despite that fact, its only public reaction so far has been to refuse to comment. That doesn’t look good, and it forces us back to what the company said in the wake of the Valukas report—that its work as Lehman auditor “met all applicable professional standards,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

He also agrees with us that the fine will be greater than the $150 million and notes (not hiding his disappointment) that no partners were named, “E&Y will avoid admitting blame and also avoid criminal prosecution. […] [T]he only defendant is Ernst & Young LLP; there are no named individuals on the list. So E&Y’s partners are probably safe too. Sadly.”

Unless, of course, the SEC or PCAOB opt to take up that disciplinary slack. Don’t forget that some people think that Cuomo is making this move because he wants the “last scalp” before leaving the AG’s office for the Governor’s mansion. We realize pinning hopes on the SEC and PCAOB isn’t exactly comforting for those wishing to see more action but maybe Cuomo’s actions are the motivation they needed.

We’ll keep you updated throughout the day and if there’s any internal word from the hallowed walls of 5 Times Square, do email us the details.

(UPDATE) Early More Chatter on the Ernst & Young Civil Charges

As we mentioned earlier, the Wall St. Journal has reported that out-going New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will be filing civil fraud charges against Ernst & Young related to its actions (mostly lack thereof) that led to the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Charges are expected this week but everyone is talking about it now obviously (and we were hoping for a quiet week).

Anyhoo, we’ve rounded up some of the early sound blog bites out there and we’ll keep you updated throughout the day. Of course, if you’re with E&Y and have any insight or hear some calming, soothing words from TPTB, email us t��������������������ore–>
In her column at Forbes, Francine McKenna is happy that Andrew Cuomo is actually doing something, which is more than can be said for the Feds:

Whether Cuomo is doing this on his own, in defiance of the Feds, or has their implicit blessing in light of the Federal Government’s seeming unwillingness to act, New York’s Attorney General is showing the world he’s the only one in the US with the nerve to shake this tree.

Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren is not so impressed, saying criminal charges are really what’s needed:

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo needs to get tough instead of this “window dressing” CIVIL business. He is soon to be the Governor of NYC and this is his last act as the State’s Attorney General. I hope this is not to appease Wall Street. Let a jury decide whether is is criminal behavior or not and whether anyone has committed a crime. As it stands now, Cuomo is blocking that determination with only civil charges.

Felix Salmon postulates that Cuomo is using the possibility of criminal charges to scare E&Y into a settlement:

On the other hand, a civil fraud suit is not a criminal prosecution. Even if E&Y fights the charges and loses, it probably won’t find itself on the receiving end of the kind of criminal charges which brought down Andersen. Still, I’m sure that Cuomo’s office is doing nothing to downplay the contingent existential threat here, in its negotiations with E&Y.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism is practically giddy and hopes that this will turn up the heat on Dick Fuld:

One can only hope turning up the heat on Ernst & Young will lead to the prosecution of Richard Fuld. The buck is supposed to stop with the CEO, particularly when they are paid as many bucks as Fuld received. Given the scale of looting that took place in the runup to and after the crisis, there is no hope of getting the banking industry back in its proper role of supporting the real economy until we see some senior bank executives in orange jumpsuits.

CNBC’s John Carney thinks that execs at both Lehman and E&Y should take the civil charges as good sign:

Why should executives at Lehman and Ernst & Young be relieved? Because the filing of civil charges rather than criminal charges may signal that prosecutors do not believe they can prove a criminal case. The key difference between criminal and civil charges in these contexts is the quality of evidence and it looks as if New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office has decided it doesn’t have the evidence to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Fortune’s Colin Barr is appalled that E&Y’s Global CEO Jim Turley believes that there wasn’t any chicanery going on:

Take this exchange between E&Y chief Jim Turley and Fortune’s Geoff Colvin, from a September interview.

Colvin: Would it be fair to say that the crisis was caused in part by some financial firms doing misleading things that were within the rules?

Turley: I don’t know that it would be fair to say they were doing misleading things.

It’s remarkable Turley would still say that two months after the financial firm of the best and the brightest, Goldman Sachs (GS), agreed to pay $550 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it misled investors in a bubble-era debt deal. The auditors weren’t involved in that one, but the Wall Street mindset was pretty obvious to everyone not running an audit firm.

Over at DealBook, Peter Henning has an interesting theory that the NYAG could be going after the accountants while the SEC focuses on individuals:

If the S.E.C. agreed to share the Lehman case with the New York attorney general, then it may be that the state took the accountants as the focus of its investigation while the federal government concentrates on individuals. Such a division of labor would allow each to husband resources by avoiding any duplication of effort in the investigation – and may be the reason the state is planning to file charges before the S.E.C. decides to act.

Emily Chasan at Reuters managed to get a statement out of someone (Charlie Perkins’s phone has likely exploded by now) although the firm is sticking to the talking points:

A spokeswoman for Ernst & Young said the company did not comment on speculation and repeated a previous statement made by the firm about its dealings with Lehman Brothers. “Throughout our period as the auditor of Lehman, we firmly believe our work met all applicable professional standards, applying the rules that existed at the time,” the statement said.

Matt Taibbi (whole post is worth a read) is calling for the paramedics:

My guess is that this suit is the beginning of the end for Ernst and Young and, who knows, may be the beginning of a series of investigations that ultimately take down the auditors and ratings agencies that made the financial crisis possible. Without accountants and raters signing off on all the bogus derivative math and bad bookkeeping, a lot of this mess would never have happened.

We’ll be updating this post with more reactions and as things develop.

Marin County Adds ‘Racketeering’ to the List of Allegations Against Deloitte

Hell hath no fury like an obscure California county that feels completely gypped (to the point that they feel it’s fraudulent) by the largest professional services on Earth.

Marin officials fired another salvo in an escalating $105 million legal war with international computer consultants, filing a new lawsuit Thursday accusing them and a former county official of violating racketeering law in a bid to rip off taxpayers.

The new suit was filed against Deloitte Consultant LLP, software developer SAP and former assistant auditor-controller Ernest Culver, who served as project director of the county’s troubled computer installation before quitting to join SAP.

As you may recall, Marin County’s original suit against Deloitte for $35 million involved allegations of “fraud, misconduct and misrepresentation” which included using ‘neophytes’ on the implementation of the county’s ERP system. The new racketeering charges are especially interesting and the Marin Independent Journal has the details:

It alleges a conspiracy, asserting consultants wined and dined Culver and interviewed him for employment at the same time Culver was approving deficient work on the project, approving fee payments and helping line up new contracts.

“County taxpayers were charged for millions of dollars in services that Deloitte failed to properly perform” and residents were “defrauded of the honest services of a high-ranking county official,” according to County Counsel Patrick Faulkner.

Deloitte denied the allegations of the original suit, saying that Marin County was actually responsible for the snafu. However, and unfortunately for Deloitte, new shit has come to light:

Faulkner disclosed that the county has combed through its computer system to retrieve thousands of e-mails issued by consultants and Culver while they worked in county offices, providing a backbone for accusations leveled by the latest suit.

The complaint alleges six violations of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by Deloitte and SAP, and three counts of illegal conduct against Culver, including a violation of the state anti-corruption statute.

So it doesn’t sound like there’s a smoking gun per se but enough back and forth that adds up to this:

The lawsuit, the county said in a press release issued late Thursday, claims that when problems with Deloitte’s work surfaced, Deloitte and SAP engaged in a “cover-up that included bribing Culver to falsely ‘approve’ Deloitte’s defective work, and silencing an SAP employee who tried to intervene on the county’s behalf.”

So, in other words, pretty bad stuff. The MIJ reports that “Settlement talks are expected and while the parties remain at odds, the latest court filing could spur negotiations.” Using our best translation skills, this more or less says, “Deloitte, SAP and Culver realize they’re fucked – begrudgingly – and will be going to the table any day now to sort things out.”

The Independent Journal also reports that SAP, Deloitte or Ernest Culver “could not immediately be reached.” Our own messages with Deloitte spokemen Jonathan Gandal and John La Place were also not immediately returned.

Marin County alleges racketeering in new lawsuit over computer debacle [MIJ]

A Walmart Sticker Leads to California Lawsuit Against Overstock.com

~ UPDATE includes link and quote from Overstock.com’s press release responding to the suit.

Gary Weiss is all over the $15 million lawsuit brought by seven California counties against Overstock.com today, noting that this could be a helluva problem for our fave SLC problem-child:

The counties had offered to settle with Overstock for as little as $7.5 million, but Overstock refused. No wonder: if the company had coughed up such a substantial amount of cash, it probably would have been driven into bankruptcy.

The suit came out of some alleged false comparative advertising claims (e.g. think Crazy Eddie commercials) including this one that got investigators on the case:

It was a Cottonwood man’s complaints about the firm that persuaded prosecutors to investigate the matter, said Erin Dervin, a Shasta County deputy district attorney.

In 2007, Mark Ecenbarger bought a patio set for $449 on Overstock. The website claimed the list price other companies were charging for the set was $999.99.

But when the furniture was delivered, there was a Walmart sticker on the side of the box showing the set was really worth $247.

Naturally, Overstock is saying that this one big misunderstanding and that isn’t how they do business. The prosecutors aren’t convinced:

The suit claims Overstock often outright makes up its list prices and compare-at prices based on arbitrary markups over the firm’s cost for the product. In many cases, Overstock entirely fabricated a fictitious comparison price and then claimed it was discounting that price, even when it was the only seller of the product, prosecutors allege.

You would think that such a troublesome lawsuit would cause havoc on the company’s stock price, wouldn’t you? Nope. Gary explains:

The reason for that is simple: fraud is already incorporated into the share price. This company is under SEC investigation for systematically cooking its books. Why should consumers be treated any differently than shareholders?

UPDATE: Full statement from Overstock is available although Patrick Byrne is MIA:

“Overstock.com stands by all our advertising practices, including providing comparison values which we thoroughly explain on our site. We have been singled out for standard industry practices, which we look forward to demonstrating in court,” said Jonathan Johnson, President of Overstock.com.

Young Buck Not Satisfied with Keeping Personal Possessions, Suing IRS

If you’re like us, you were crushed by the news of the IRS canceling the auction of Young Buck’s treasures. Whether it was the ‘marijuana leaf picture‘ or the Titans Fridge, the auction really had a lot to offer and it’s a shame – a damn shame – that Mr. Buck’s attorney put a stop to it.

But having your home raided by IRS Agents wielding shotguns (our vision) is enough to get the most passive citizen upset. So if you’re Young Buck, simply getting to keep your material possessions won’t suffice:

Officials said Young Buck is suing the IRS over the raid, saying the government’s response to his tax problems has hurt his ability to make money and pay off his debts.

Got it? The IRS kicked down the doors, made off with all the man’s goods and now his records won’t sell. It has nothing to do with his music sucking.

Accounting Firms Dodge Bullet in NY Court’s Kirschner v. KPMG Ruling

Francine McKenna was the first to opine (strongly we might add) on the ruling in Kirschner v. KPMG (along with the derivative suit Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana and City of New Orleans Employees’ Retirement System v. PricewaterhouseCoopers) that was announced yesterday.

The New York Law Journal reported on the ruling first:

Ruling on certified questiirschner v. KPMG LLP, 151, and Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 152—a 4-3 majority held that accountants who allegedly should have detected malfeasance by executives of Refco in Kirschner and American International Group Inc. in Teachers Retirement System cannot be sued under state law.

The Court held that the principles under which the suits were dismissed—in pari delicto and imputation—are “embedded in New York law” and “remain sound.”

Like we said, Francine had some thoughts on this and she did not hold back:

A majority of the New York Court of Appeals bought the self-serving, selfish and unjust arguments of the defendants and their flunky amicus brief toadies supporting criminal corporate fraudsters and, get this, the shareholders of the accounting firms (!!). The New York Court of Appeals abandoned the shareholders and creditors of Refco and AIG for criminals and incompetents.

If I were writing this decision as a novel of corporate cronyism to the extreme in a Utopian nirvana for capitalist parasites, I could not have imagined more contemptible excuses for judicial cowardice.

Those “flunky amicus brief toadies” include the AICPA, the New York State Society of CPAs and the Center for Audit Quality, who argued that our very capital market system was at risk if accounting firms (and other professionals) could be held responsible for fraud perpetrated by management.

We share Francine’s passion for holding accountants responsible for their culpability (plus, claiming “we were duped” does nothing for the industry’s reputation) but the ruling hardly comes as surprise. Judge Susan Phillips Read wrote for the majority:

The speculative public policy benefits advanced by the Litigation Trustee and the derivative plaintiffs to vindicate the changes they seek do not, in our view, outweigh the important public policies that undergird our precedents in this area or the importance of maintaining the “stability and fair measure of certainty which are prime requisites in any body of law” (Loughran, Some Reflections on the Role of Judicial Precedent, 22 Fordham L Rev 1, 3 [1953]). We are simply not presented here with the rare case where, in the words of former Chief Judge Loughran, “the justification and need” for departure from carefully developed legal principles are “clear and cogent” (id.). Finally, to the extent our law had become ambiguous, today’s decision should remove any lingering confusion.”

[…]

We are also not convinced that altering our precedent to expand remedies for these or similarly situated plaintiffs would produce a meaningful additional deterrent to professional misconduct or malpractice.

In other words, these particular cases didn’t present a situation that demonstrated a desperate need for change in the law nor would it prove to be a helpful deterrent of fraud in the future. Bottom-line seems to be that Francine is upset at the majority’s pragmatic attitude but what do you expect from a panel of seven judges? It’s a long shot that you come across more than a couple of judges who are willing to turn years of case law inside out and upside down just because a company went bankrupt or a pension fund lost value.

That being said, there was a very enthusiastic and compelling dissent that basically calls auditors a bunch of pansies when it comes to accepting professional responsibility, “[I]t seems that strict imputation rules merely invite gatekeeper professionals ‘to neglect their duty to ferret out fraud by corporate insiders because even if they are negligent, there will be no damages assessed against them for their malfeasance.’ ” You can check out more over at RTA.

As far as the audit firms are concerned, they have to breathing a huge sigh of relief. Considering all the lawsuits out there, firms are already slowly bleeding to death by paper cuts. If this case had gone the other way, it could very well have been a mortal wound for the firms.

Kirschner v KPMG LLP [NY Court of Appeals]
Third-Party Liability Ruled Out in N.Y. Suits for Corporate Misdeeds [New York Law Journal]
New York Court of Appeals Stands By Corporate Man: In Pari Delicto Prevails [Re:The Auditors]

Accounting News Roundup: Congress Delay on Taxes Could Hit January Paychecks; KPMG Settles with Hollinger; PwC Asking Clients to Share Internal Info | 10.07.10

Republicans See a Political Motive in I.R.S. Audits [NYT]
“Leading Republicans are suggesting that a senior official in the Obama administration may have improperly accessed the tax records of Koch Industries, an oil company whose owners are major conservative donors.

And the Republicans are also upset about an I.R.S. review requested by Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who leads the Finance Committee, into the political activities of tax-exempt groups. Such a review threatens to “chill the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights,” wrote two Republican senators, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Jon Kyl of Arizona, in a letter sent to the I.R.S. on Wednesday.
ick to point out that the I.R.S. was put under tight restrictions about access to Americans’ tax returns as a result of political shenanigans by the Nixon administration involving tax audits.”

AIG’s Real Numbers Still Shrouded in Secrecy [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]
“Two years ago when the government seized control of AIG, the Treasury in effect took a 79.9 percent ownership stake in the company, through preferred shares and warrants it received as part of AIG’s $182 billion bailout package. By keeping its stake below 80 percent, the government ensured that a financial-reporting method known as push-down accounting wouldn’t be permitted under U.S. accounting rules.

The reason that was so important? Had AIG chosen to implement push-down accounting, it would have had to undergo a complete re-assessment of all its assets and liabilities. And, with a few possible exceptions, the company would have been required to begin showing them on its balance sheet at their fair market values, which may have left AIG’s books looking a lot worse.”

Delays to Tax Tables May Dent Paychecks [WSJ]
“Lack of congressional action on 2011 income taxes may force the Treasury Department to make unprecedented moves to prevent U.S. workers from seeing large tax increases in their January paychecks.

The issue: 2011 tax-withholding tables. Treasury officials usually release the tables, which determine the take-home pay of millions of wage-earners, by mid-November because it takes payroll processors weeks to adjust their systems before Jan. 1.”

Steven Bandolik Joins Deloitte’s Distressed Debt & Asset Practice [PR Newswire]
“Deloitte announced today that Steven Bandolik has joined its distressed debt and asset practice. Bandolik’s hire marks the latest in a series of strategic growth initiatives executed over the last 18 months to expand Deloitte’s distressed debt and asset practice.

‘Challenges need to become opportunities in order for borrowers, lenders and investors to move forward, and get back to their core business of making positive returns on investments. Despite lower interest rates, obtaining new financing regardless of loan performance continues to be an issue unless properties and financial positions are extremely strong,’ said Bandolik. ‘In this environment, clients require intellectual capital to re-structure transactions, and design sensible underwriting, due diligence and risk management procedures. Their debt may need to be structured more conservatively, requiring higher equity levels that could withstand future stress, with a focus on deleveraging over the holding period.’ ”

Hollinger Inc.: Settlement of Claims Against KPMG LLP [Marketwire]
“The Litigation Trustee of Hollinger Inc. (“Hollinger”) announced today that he has entered into a settlement agreement with KPMG LLP to resolve all claims against Hollinger’s former advisor advanced by the Litigation Trustee on behalf of Hollinger. The settlement entails no admission of liability on the part of KPMG LLP. The terms of the settlement include releases in favour of KPMG LLP from Hollinger and its subsidiaries, as well as from third parties involved in related Hollinger litigation. The settlement and the releases are subject to court approval, which will be sought on notice to other affected parties. The rest of the terms of the settlement agreement are confidential.”


CAQ Reports on Fraud Best Practices, Launches New Effort [Compliance Week]
“The CAQ conducted five roundtables and 20 in-depth interviews to develop consensus on how companies can best create a financial reporting environment where fraud has little potential to seed or take root. The CAQ published the findings as a cornerstone to further collaborative efforts with other professional groups to share ideas and best practices on how to derail fraudulent financial reporting.”

PwC audit clients asked to give up internal information [Accountancy Age]
“Ian Powell, chairman of PwC told an audience of 300 business professionals, the audit model needed reform, and believed some internal discussions, now privately held between an auditor and company, needed to be made public.

‘It may well be that by making more of those discussions public, the value of an audit can be collectively improved,’ he said.

‘I have asked our lead audit partners to discuss this idea with audit committee chairs of PwC clients to see if we can work together on a voluntary basis to improve the disclosure of such matters over the next reporting cycle.’

The comments come as the European Commission prepares to release a green paper on audit competition, due later this month, and the House of Lords prepares to hear evidence on the issue, next week.”

Greenspan: Financial overhaul to have ‘significant impact’ on economic growth [On the Money/The Hill]
Some people are still listening to this man.

Madoff clan denies fraud role, seek suit dismissal [Reuters]
A consistent message may actually convince someone, some day.

Koss Demands Sue Sachdeva’s Help Winning Their Civil Case Against Sue Sachdeva

The least convicted embezzler-cum-recovering shopaholic Sue Sachdeva could do is help out the company that she ripped off to the tune of $34 million.

Despite how Suz feels about it, her lawyers do not want her to be deposed in Koss’s civil case against her and Grant Thornton until after she is sentenced to prison for the rest of her worthwhile shopping days. Doing so would jeopardize putting her back at Nordstrom’s sooner than they would like:

Sachdeva anticipates receiving a two-level decrease in the federal court sentencing guidelines by accepting responsibility for her actions, her Madison attorney Jack Williams said in court documents filed last month. She reached a plea agreement on the charges in July.

“Submitting to a deposition could jeopardize Mrs. Sachdeva’s opportunity to receive that decrease,” Williams argued.

Koss Corp. vehemently opposes Sachdeva’s motion on the grounds that she needs to cooperate not only with prosecutors in her criminal case, but also with her former employer in its efforts to win a civil judgment against her and former Koss auditor Grant Thornton LLP.

Sachdeva tries to delay her deposition in Koss suit [The Business Journal of Milwaukee (partial subscription required)]

Accounting News Roundup: Obama Opposes Deal on Tax Cuts for Wealthy; Former Advatech CFO Sentenced; Citrin Cooperman One of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing | 09.08.10

Obama Against a Compromise on Extension of Bush Tax Cuts [NYT]
“President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies.

Mr. Obama’s opposition to allowing the high-end tax cuts to remain in place for even another year or two would be the signal many Congressional Democrats have been awaiting as they prepare for a showdown with Republicans on the issue and ends speculation that thee open to an extension. Democrats say only the president can rally wavering lawmakers who, amid the party’s weakened poll numbers, feel increasingly vulnerable to Republican attacks if they let the top rates lapse at the end of this year as scheduled.”

Oracle CEO Rails Against H-P For Mark Hurd Lawsuit [Dow Jones]
Were the HP board membersnot aware that Larry Ellison does what he wants? Oh and that’s he’s filthy rich and will buy all of their homes and their families’ homes and burn them to the ground if you dare cross him?

“Oracle Corp. (ORCL) Chief Executive Larry Ellison issued on Tuesday a strongly worded criticism of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and its lawsuit against H-P’s former Chief Executive Mark Hurd, suggesting that Oracle might discontinue its 25-year partnership with H-P.

‘Oracle has long viewed H-P as an important partner,’ said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in a statement. ‘The H-P board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The H-P Board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and H-P to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace.’ ”

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation Announces John Duffey to Join Company as Chief Financial Officer and Lance Balk to Serve as General Counsel [PR Newswire]
Despite rumors that Duffey is scared to death of roller coasters, he assumes the big chair.

Former Advatech CFO Sentenced To 51 Months In Prison [Dow Jones]
“Richard Margulies, 59, was convicted of a June 2008 scheme that involved hiring two individuals to make “manipulative” purchases in the company’s stock in exchange for illegal kickbacks. He provided the two with shareholder lists, confidential information and non-public press releases to help slowly drive up the share price.

Soon after, Margulies was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was indicted in December 2008 on charges that included conspiracy and securities fraud. Margulies pleaded guilty.

The court found he intended to cause $2.5 million to $7 million in losses as a result of his actions.”


Deloitte Becomes a Thomson Reuters Certified Implementer [PR Newswire]
Apparently this is BFD.

BP Takes Some Blame in Gulf Disaster [WSJ]
“The report finds BP facing a tricky balancing act. The British company risks exposing itself to greater legal liability if it assumes a large part of the blame for the disaster, but if it doesn’t do this it likely would be accused of evading responsibility. Meanwhile, parceling out blame to other companies involved in the well risks drawing blowback from them. BP officials and legal analysts say the company is trying to be careful to avoid letting the findings devolve into more mud-slinging.”

Citrin Cooperman Ranked Among Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-growing Private Companies [PR Log]
“According to Inc., Citrin Cooperman was the 148th fastest growing firm in the magazine’s broad “financial services” category, which includes accounting firms, brokerages, lending services and technology firms serving the financial industry.”