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News June 2012 Lehman Brothers International (Europe)

Lehman Brothers International (Europe)

22 June 2012
AADB PN 49

The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB), an operating Board of the Financial Reporting Council, announces the outcome of its investigation into the conduct of Members of the ICAEW and of Ernst & Young LLP, Member Firm of the ICAEW , as auditors to Lehman Brothers International (Europe). 

The AADB is independent of the professions it disciplines and operates in the public interest.
 
Following the conclusion of the investigation, the AADB’s Executive Counsel, Gareth Rees QC, has decided that no action should be taken against Ernst & Young LLP or any individuals in connection with their conduct in this matter.
 
Executive Counsel’s summary of the investigation and his conclusions are set out below. 
  • On 10th June 2010 the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (“AADB”) considered the matter of Lehman Brothers (“Lehmans”) and decided, pursuant to paragraph 5(8) of the AADB Accountancy Scheme (“the Scheme”), that the matter should be investigated by the AADB.
  • Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (“LBHI”) sought Chapter 11 protection in the United States of America on 15th September 2008. The US Bankruptcy Court nominated an Examiner, Anton R. Valukas, who published his report into Lehmans’ collapse on 11th March 2010. The report made criticisms of Lehmans’ auditor, Ernst & Young, for failing to question and challenge improper or inadequate disclosures in Lehmans’ financial statements. The Examiner’s criticisms specifically related to the use by Lehmans of transactions known as Repo 105 and Repo 108 transactions. The report did not specify whether the criticisms related to the primary auditor of LBHI, which was Ernst & Young in New York, or Ernst & Young generally.
  • Repo 105s and Repo 108s were used by Lehmans to raise short term funds and, by virtue of compliance with US Financial Accounting Standard 140 (“FAS140”) which requires certain transactions to be treated as sales instead of financing transactions, enabled Lehmans to reduce its balance sheet and leverage ratios. The Examiner found that whilst the use of Repo 105/ 108 transactions may not have been inherently improper its sole function as employed by Lehmans was balance sheet manipulation.
  • The scope of the AADB investigation was as follows:
    • “The conduct of Members and a Member Firm in relation to: (a) the preparation and audits of the financial statements of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.and UK operations including Lehman Brothers International (Europe) for the year ended 30th November 2007;and (b) the use and accounting treatment of transactions known as “Repo 105s” and “Repo 108s” by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and UK operations including Lehman Brothers International (Europe).”
  • The focus of the investigation was the audit by Ernst & Young LLP in the UK (“EYUK”) of Lehman Brothers International (Europe) (“LBIE”) and of Repo 105 and Repo 108 transactions which were conducted through LBIE.  EYUK audited the trial balance of LBIE prepared under US GAAP for consolidation into LBHI’s consolidated financial statements. The audit of LBIE’s trial balance formed the basis of a ‘Specific Scope Conclusion’ to Ernst & Young in New York.
  • In the course of the investigation, the investigation team obtained and reviewed EYUK’s audit files; hard copy documentation; information from EYUK staff members’ laptops and emails, and information from other regulators. The team also interviewed EYUK audit team staff and former members of staff of Lehmans. 
  • Executive Counsel considers that there is no realistic prospect that a Tribunal would make an adverse finding against Ernst & Young LLP in the UK or Members within that firm. The investigation will therefore be closed and no further action taken.

Notes to editors

  1. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is the UK’s independent regulator responsible for promoting high quality corporate governance and reporting to foster investment.
  2. The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board ("AADB") is the independent, investigative and disciplinary body for accountants and actuaries in the UK. The AADB is responsible for operating and administering independent disciplinary schemes for these professions. The Accountancy Scheme covers Members of the following accountants' professional bodies:- the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. The Actuarial Scheme covers Members of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (formerly the Institute of Actuaries) and the Faculty of Actuaries (prior to its merger with the Institute of Faculty of Actuaries).
  3. The focus of the AADB is on cases which raise important issues affecting the public interest; other disciplinary cases will continue to be dealt with by the relevant professional body. The purpose of an investigation is to determine whether there is evidence of misconduct on the part of Members or Member Firms of the professional bodies. An investigation does not always mean that an allegation has been made or that there is evidence of misconduct on the part of the Member or Member Firm involved. 
  4. Disciplinary complaints filed following an AADB investigation are heard by an independent Tribunal which will normally sit in public. If the Tribunal upholds a complaint, there is a wide range of sanctions which it can impose including an unlimited fine, exclusion from membership of a professional body covered by one of the Schemes and withdrawal of practising certificates or licenses. 

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