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N.Y. Attorney General Cuomo filed charges against Ernst & Young on December 21, 2010, alleging that the firm helped Wall Street Investment bank Lehman Brothers conceal its deteriorating financial condition before the bank’s historic collapse in the fall of 2008.  The civil lawsuit, which seeks more than $150 million, is the first law enforcement action to stem from Lehman’s failure. The bankruptcy of the firm, which was an important cog in the machinery of the capital markets, caused immense collateral damage. The allegations center on sham trades that allowed Lehman to window-dress its balance sheet before filing quarterly financial reports, making it seem like it had more cash than it actually did. Cuomo’s lawsuit aims to hold accountable one of the less-mentioned players in the saga – Ernst & Young, Lehman’s auditor, which allegedly turned a blind eye to the accounting machinations. The case does not resolve the fate of senior Lehman executives, such as former chief executive Richard Fuld, who have been under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Questions:

1.  Explain the boomerang trade referred to as “Repo 105” that is at the heart of the allegations.

2.  Explain leverage and what impact it played in the scenario.

3. Based on what you know about the Lehman situation, do you think they should have been included in the government bailout?  Why or why not?

4.  Read Matthew Lee’s letter  and critique it. Do you agree with the way he handled the situation as a whistleblower?  Based on what you know, would you have handled it any differently? 

Source:

Goldfarb, Zachary A. (2010). N.Y. Attorney General Cuomo Sues Ernst and Young, alleging Lehman Accounting Fraud, The Washington Post, December 22 (Retrievable online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/21/AR2010122103973.html?sid=ST2010122106931)

Lee, Matthew. (2010). The Lehman Whistleblower Letter Everyone Ignored. Hereisthecity.com, December 21, 2010 (Retrievable online at http://news.hereisthecity.com/news/business_news/10215.cntns)  

The Alyona Show,  The Next Arthur Andersen?, Dec. 22, 2010. (Retrievable at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B_esTl9FS8&feature=related)