Judge Didn’t Buy PwC’s Story, Rejects Call for Mistrial
Judge Victor Marrero rejected PwC’s argument that MF Global’s attorneys were presenting a new theory of causation in their case, dealing the firm a setback in the trial. PwC claimed that the plaintiffs were conducting a “trial by ambush.” From Reuters: PwC said the administrator has in three years of litigation blamed the bankruptcy on […]
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 […]
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 […]
It’s a Safe Bet That a Few People Knew That Saying “PwC Is a Bunch of Morons” Would Get Them Out of Jury Duty
This Associated Press report chronicles the first two days in the trial between the bankruptcy trustee of MF Global Holdings and PwC. The story is fine, a classic example of AP reporting, but two sentences make it truly remarkable (and thus worthy of our pages here): What was originally a highly technical case newsworthy mostly […]
In MF Global Trial, PwC Hoping for Jurors Who’ve Been Under a Rock
Despite all the hubbub around the screw-up at the Academy Awards, PwC has to soldier on with its business. Unfortunately, right now that business includes defending itself against a massive lawsuit in a trial that starts on Monday. It’s hard to imagine a worse Monday than the day after #Envelopegate, but the firm’s face-off with […]
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 […]
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 […]
Judge Shoots Down PwC’s In Pari Delicto Excuse to Weasel Out of MF Global Suit
The part you need to know about District Judge Marrero's decision in MF Global v PwC yesterday: Judge Victor Marrero held: “[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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
MF Global CFO Was Too Busy Trying to Save the Company to Be Bothered with Things Like Illegal Transfers of Customer Funds
Henri Steenkamp will not be going down for this: MF Global Holdings Ltd. […] Chief Financial Officer Henri Steenkamp plans to tell a House panel he had "limited knowledge" of money transfers during the securities firm's final days that led to an estimated $1.6 billion shortfall in customer funds. Mr. Steenkamp was "taken up with other […]
Saturday Open Thread: The FASB Is All Show, No Substance
Welcome back to Saturday, folks. Once again, Saturday Open Thread is your opportunity to air any grievances, talk about your week, complain about failing the CPA exam, or berate Colin for the purple shirt he wore to the PCAOB open meeting on Wednesday. Let it all out, it'll help you head into Monday feeling slightly […]
Accounting News Roundup: The Frenzy at MF Global; Transocean’s Tax bill; NYC’s Sketchy Tax Preparers | 03.01.12
Fast, Furious at MF Global [WSJ]At 4:53 p.m. five days before MF Global Holdings Ltd. collapsed, an employee in its Chicago office asked a co-worker to move $165 million from one of the securities firm's bank accounts to another. "Approved," came the response one minute later, according to an email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. […]
KPMG to MF Global UK Clients: Those Yankees Are Costing You 16 Cents on the Dollar
This is progress, okay? They're doing the best they can. [MF Global] [a]dministrators in New York and London are involved in a dispute over about $742 million of customer funds used as margin collateral for American clients trading in Europe. The U.S. trustee of MF Global Inc. wants the money to come from the client […]
Today, in Regrettable CFO Emails
In his time at PwC, you'd think Henri would've received the "don't write anything in email that you wouldn't want the front page of the Wall Street Journal," training. S&P provided the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations with an excerpt of the e-mail from MF Global CFO Henri Steenkamp. S&P also informed the […]
KPMG Knows Something Jon Corzine Doesn’t Know
Looks like somebody owes someone a BIG thank you: MF Global Holdings Ltd.’s U.K. administrator says it found all of the British unit’s segregated client funds and collected 82 percent of the money. Richard Heis, a KPMG LLP partner working on the administration, said the firm is trying to recover remaining customer assets, some of […]
SEC Asking FASB About Looking Into That MF Global Accounting Thingamajig
Because, you know, it’s sorta tricky and it didn’t really turn out so well for Corzine & Co.
The SEC is in talks with the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets accounting standards, about “repurchase-to- maturity” agreements that MF Global used in off-balance-sheet accounting, Schapiro said today during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington. “We are talking with FASB about whether we need more disclosure of those,” Schapiro said.
Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) seems a little more urgent:
“How is it possible that someone is able to bet the farm here, multiple times, and it disappears from the balance sheet because of this repo-to-maturity technique?” asked Senator Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, noting that the technique made it appear as though the risk had been “sold.”
“That is a loophole so big you can drive a Mack truck through it,” Conrad said. “If that’s not closed, we should ask ourselves what we’re doing.”
I think we all know what a lot of people at the SEC are doing.
MF Global Accounting Technique Under Review, Schapiro Says [BBW]
KPMG Finds Half of That MF Global Client Money; Still Not Making Any Promises
After apologizing for the slow pace, it appears the House of Klynveld has upped their game.
“We have so far collected about a half of the approximate $1 billion outstanding but it is hard to speculate on the final amount given we are dependent on third parties,” said KPMG partner Richard Heis in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.
Okay, so there’s still half a bil out there somewhere. Anybody seen it? No? No worries, then. KPMG has a backup plan.
The administrator confirmed last week that it had sold MF Global’s stake in the London Metals Exchange to JP Morgan and the broker’s British metals desk had been offloaded to former rival FCStone. Heis said: “There are other parts of the business that could be sold and we are looking to sell them. We’re hopeful of making further announcements shortly.”
Your continued patience is appreciated.
PwC Didn’t Do CME Group Any Favors
The CFTC’s action against PwC probably came as a result of a shocking CME Group announcement late Wednesday: “It now appears that the firm [MF Global] made … transfers of customer segregated funds in a manner that may have been designed to avoid detection.” These transfers, CME Group said, appeared to have taken place after its audit team showed up last week at MF Global to take a look and found everything to be in order. CME Group couldn’t have been hoodwinked like that if PwC had been doing its job all along. You can’t circumvent controls unless there are none or there are holes. It was PwC’s job to review controls and the adequacy of policies and procedures to support them. [Francine McKenna/AB, Earlier]
KPMG Is Sorry for Not Sorting Through This Giant Charlie Foxtrot (aka MF Global) a Little Faster
Initially the House of Klynveld wasn’t worried about any MF Global clients getting their money back. Then yesterday we learned that plenty of people were pretty cranky, including one trader who thought the firm’s efforts so far were hilarious. Now, after a number of cranky phone calls and thousands of sternly-worded emails, KPMG is apologi[z]ing for all the “disruption” since they’ve been appointed as the administrator of MF Global:
“We are working with the companies’ staff to transfer client positions wherever possible. Where exchanges and counterparties have defaulted the company under their own rules, we have worked closely with them to try to optimise the outcome,” said Richard Fleming, UK head of restructuring at KPMG. “We understand the frustration among clients and market participants at the disruption that is currently being experienced and are sorry for the inconvenience this is causing. In relation to client assets and monies held by the company we are actively working to reconcile holdings and accounts in order to enable assets to be released as soon as possible.”
So, c’mon guys; I know it’s been over 72 hours but please bear with them.
How Much Trouble Is PwC Looking at for All This MF Global Business?
As has been reported, MF Global may have done some commingling of client money with its own which is a big no-no. This means the Feds are now on the case, which means typically cool-as-a-
cumcumber cucumber Jon Corzine could be sweating a bit. MF Global’s auditor, PwC, on the other hand, has it made in the shade (at least somewhat). Why? How? Alison Frankel over at Reuters tells us:
[E]ven if it turns out that MF Global was illicitly dipping into customer accounts, if that commingling of funds helped keep the business afloat, PwC is protected by in pari delicto.
If you’ve never heard of in pari delicto, that’s the obscure doctrine that says a bankruptcy trustee that’s representing the corporation can’t go after another party for stunts pulled by said corporation. In other words, if MF Global commingled funds, if (probably more like “when”) the trustee attempts to recover funds from PwC, the firm will be protected. Francine McKenna has been writing about in pari delicto since early 2010 saying that it’s “like a pair of needle nosed pliers by audit firm defense lawyers to diffuse a bomb” and last year’s ruling for KPMG in Kirschner v. KPMG and the favorable ruling for PwC in Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP reaffirmed that sentiment. PwC probably isn’t sweating this.
But what about PwC’s audit opinion on MF’s financial statements? The Grumpies pondered the idea of what might constitute grounds for P. Dubs to issue a going concern opinion for MFG:
Might that include four years (2008-2011) of massive losses, as occurred at MF Global? Might that include severely negative free cash flows for three of the last four years? Might that include an exposure to European sovereign debt that will lead to greater future losses? Might that include several downgrades in the credit ratings?
Say you’ve got a broker-dealer client that has no European sovereign debt exposure and isn’t covered by a ratings agency. You simply have massive losses for four straight years and negative free cash flow for three out of the last four and few signs that things are turning around. Do you think there’s any doubt about this business’s ability to continue as a going concern? What about substantial doubt? Throw in the Eurotrash debt and junky bond ratings again and where do you stand now? Yikes.
But PwC was cool with it. We probably know the why (money and client retention, natch). But how? Love to hear some opinions on that. No matter the answer, our lawyer friends will do well by it all.
KPMG Is Confident That MF Global Clients Will Get Their Money
That is, in case you were worried. Reuters reports that Richard Fleming, the Head of Restructuring in the UK, said that “It’s still a large number. It’s still billions,” but so far things are moving quite nicely. “Our strategy this morning has been … where we have clients whose position is reconciled, and are due funds, then that money will flow.” Keep truckin’! [Reuters]
MF Global Owes CNBC More Money Than PwC
As you may have heard, MF Global Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning. You may have also heard that for some strange reason, MF owes CNBC about $845k and change. Turns out, that is more money than it owes to PwC ($312,598), Alvarez & Marsal Tax Advisory Services ($65,000), The Siegfried Group ($30,000) and KPMG ($10,000) combined.
The bright side for P. Dubs is that they got most of the $12 million that they charged the company with last year. Of course if the shareholders take this bankruptcy as well as Lehman’s have (not to mention the NYAG and the State of New Jersey), then that really doesn’t serve as much consolation.