EY, Female Ex-Principal End Lawsuit Over Bias Arbitration Costs [Bloomberg Law] Have we mentioned before how much Big 4 firms love it when claims against them by former employees go to arbitration? EY and a female former principal allegedly subjected to sexual harassment, retaliation, and other sex discrimination throughout her time with the firm agreed […]
Plus, two Deloitte partners implicated in U.K. insolvency lawsuit, and KPMG gets out of $1.1 billion suit in Oceanografia scandal. A former PwC partner who sued the firm for $15 million just had a major setback in his case, pushing the pay spat behind closed doors [Business Insider] Big 4 firms salivate when a lawsuit […]
Lawsuits against the Big 4 firms are a dime a dozen, but discrimination lawsuits make the most headlines. Like the two older CPAs who sued PwC for age discrimination (and WON!) and gender discrimination lawsuits against KPMG and EY, which either didn’t go or hasn’t gone according to plan for the plaintiffs. Now it’s Deloitte’s […]
A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Aug. 19 pretty much wrapped and put a bow on an $11.6 million settlement reached in March between PwC and two accountants who sued P. Dubs four years ago after they claimed they weren’t hired for associate positions with the firm […]
On the docket: wrongful termination, age discrimination, and conspiracy! Former PwC partner sues company, claims he’s owed $15 million [Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal] This lawsuit filed by a former Minneapolis-based PwC partner who claims he was wrongly terminated and is owed millions of dollars should keep the firm’s lawyers busy for a while. John Cahill […]
Plus, Illinois resident drops lawsuit against Deloitte Consulting, and PwC wants the city of Los Angeles to pay a price. Deloitte Wants Investor’s Nuclear Energy Project Suit Tossed [Law360] Deloitte doesn’t think it should have to face a lawsuit accusing the firm of issuing audit reports that misled investors on the progress SCANA Corp. was […]
Illinois Unemployment Data Breach Leads to ID Theft, Class-Action Lawsuit Claims [Illinois Policy] Deloitte—already being sued by two groups of Ohioans who claim their personal information was exposed on state websites the firm built to administer coronavirus unemployment benefits to independent contractors—is now being sued by an Illinois woman who said she was a victim […]
Here’s a round-up of lawsuits filed against Big 4 firms in Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Ernst & Young Sued Over Wirecard as Accounting Woes Add Up [Bloomberg] Wirecard’s longtime auditor EY is being sued just days after the payment processing company’s headquarters were raided as part of a market-manipulation probe. The German lawsuit […]
Welp, that didn’t take long: Deloitte Consulting LLP was hit with two suits by people who claim their personal information was exposed on state websites the firm built to administer supplemental coronavirus unemployment benefits. A group of Ohio residents sued Deloitte late Thursday in Manhattan federal court, after officials in that state, Illinois and Colorado disclosed […]
PwC is keeping its lawyers very, very busy. PwC fails to dismiss £25m negligence claim over Guernsey ‘Ponzi scheme [Financial Times] A judge in the Guernsey Royal Court has dismissed an attempt by the Queen’s PwC to throw out a £25 million lawsuit against P. Dubs for alleged negligence in its audits of a Guernsey […]
Federal regulator sues auditor Ernst & Young for negligence over First NBC collapse [New Orleans Advocate] The FDIC is suing Ernst & Young in the $1 billion failure of First NBC Bank in 2017, alleging that EY missed clear red flags related to several soured loans and failed to raise the alarm to the bank’s […]
A lawsuit filed almost four years ago by two accountants who claimed that the hiring policies at PwC discriminate against applicants over the age of 40 from landing entry-level positions at the firm is finally coming to an end. And the Olds got PwC to settle. Law.com reported today: PricewaterhouseCoopers has agreed to pay $11.625 […]
Once the Wall Street Journal broke the story last November that Mattel’s finance team and PwC auditors reportedly buried an accounting error that affected the toy giant’s financial results toward the end of 2017, you knew there would be some fallout. First, Bloomberg followed the WSJ report by writing that the PCAOB would be investigating […]
Last year, three CohnReznick CPAs—two partners and its chief operating officer—started new jobs as partners at Mazars USA. You would have thought Mazars would’ve sent out a press release about its new haul, like it did last September when it poached two people from KPMG, but the firm kept the CohnReznick poaching a secret. No […]
CohnReznick is being sued by 49 investors of an ill-fated Platinum Partners hedge fund who claim the accounting firm is complicit in and benefited from a fraud that doomed Platinum. Institutional Investor reported: The group of investors, who collectively sunk $63 million into the Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Fund, filed a lawsuit against CohnReznick in the […]
Merrimack College suffered two defeats on/in court yesterday. Its men’s basketball team got blown out by the Providence Friars 93-56. And it lost a case in a courtroom in Massachusetts to KPMG, although the jury found that KPMG wasn’t completely blameless in the student loan fraud case. Law360 reported: A Boston jury said negligence by […]
If all the negative headlines EY has been dealing with (and deserved) since the Huffington Post broke the story last Monday about the firm’s now-infamous 2018 training seminar for women leaders weren’t bad enough, an exposé that airs tonight on BBC One won’t do anything to help EY’s reputation and once again sheds light on […]
Merrimack College in North Andover, MA, is trying to get some of that Klynveld money, alleging in a lawsuit that KPMG committed professional malpractice, breach of contract, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation. From Courtroom View Network: Accounting giant KPMG heads to trial next week in Massachusetts state court in a malpractice lawsuit filed by Merrimack College […]
A press release sent today by Toronto-based law firms Thornton Grout Finnigan and Rochon Genova caught our attention: Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP and Rochon Genova LLP have together commenced a class action in Ontario on behalf of shareholders of CannTrust Holdings Inc. who acquired their CannTrust common shares between October 1, 2018 up to and including July 8, 2019. The […]
It’s been a while since we’ve had an update on Rabin v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the age discrimination lawsuit accusing PwC of favoring younger workers over individuals over the age of 40 for entry-level positions within the firm. Well, we’re happy to tell you we have a little bit of news, courtesy of Law.com: U.S. District […]
ICYMI, Elon Musk appeared on 60 Minutes on Sunday, and while it wasn’t quite as good as him sparking a blunt on Joe Rogan’s podcast, it was still a tad incendiary. Musk’s beef with the SEC started in August when he tweeted that he was “considering” taking Tesla private at $420 a share (LOL 420, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 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 […]
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.
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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” […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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.
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 – […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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]
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]
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.
“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.
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]
The Fund suing large bank in the U.S. for fraud [DN.NO (Beware, the translation is brutal)]
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.
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, w pany’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]
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
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.
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]
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.
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.
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 tatt h “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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers
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 t am 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.
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.
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 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 harassment le, 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.
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]