Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ernst & Young sued over Lehman's collapse

Here is the big news that might trigger your interest as an auditor.

One of the Big 4 accounting firms, Ernst & Young is facing a civil lawsuit in the US over the collapse of Lehman Brothers! New York's state attorney Andrew Cumo claims that New York's state attorney Andrew Cuomo claims Ernst & Young "sat by silently" as Lehman Brothers tried to conceal billions of dollars in debt from investors before its implosion. The lawsuit says Lehman ran a "massive accounting fraud".

It is claimed that Ernst & Young approved of Lehman's increasingly frequent use of a device known as Repo 105. The lawsuit alleges: "These Repo 105 transactions had no independent business purpose and were designed solely to enable Lehman to manage the company's financial balance sheet metrics."

The case centres on Lehman's use of an accountancy practice known as Repo 105, which involves temporarily removing money from the balance sheet to give the impression of greater financial strength. Mr Cuomo mentioned that, Ernst & Young should not have approved the accounts, knowing that the practice had been used so widely.

The lawsuit seeks more than $150 million in fees that Ernst & Young received from 2001 to 2008 as Lehman's outside auditor,plus other unspecified damages

Ernst & Young has responded, and claims that the firm is going to "vigorously defend" the lawsuit.

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