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The Brattle Group has extensive experience advising clients on disputes related to financial accounting and reporting, disclosures, regulatory accounting, managerial and cost accounting, forensic accounting, and auditing.

Our experts have testified in, or consulted on, matters involving generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS); disclosures with regard to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidelines; audit and review procedures related to generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS); and the adequacy of internal controls over financial reporting (ICFR).

Areas of research have included revenue recognition; cost allocations; the timing and amount of asset write-downs; accounting for derivatives; guarantees; fair value reporting; consolidation; off balance sheet (OBS) accounting; and pensions. Our expertise in forensic accounting includes the reconstruction of financial records and the tracing of transactions from source documents.

We address both liability and damages issues related to securities class actions, M&A disputes, regulatory investigations, international arbitrations, tax controversies, intellectual property disputes, and breaches of contract. Our clients include law firms, large corporations, Big Four accounting firms, and US government agencies such as the SEC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Key Areas of Expertise 

  • Auditor Liability
  • Causation and Damages
  • Disclosure Adequacy
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Internal Controls
  • International Financial Reporting Standards
  • Managerial and Cost Accounting
  • Materiality
  • Regulatory Accounting
  • Reporting Entity Liability
  • Restatement and Misstatement
  • Tax Accounting

Engagements
REPRESENTATIVE ENGAGEMENTS

Below is a list of representative engagements for our Accounting practice.

Auditor liability in accounting firm resignation

Brattle worked on behalf of a multinational accounting firm in a suit in which the firm’s client, a regional bank, alleged that the accounting firm had inappropriately resigned during an audit, resulting in increased fees charged by the successor accounting firm that completed the audit. Brattle supported an industry audit expert who examined the audit issues related to the allowance for loan losses and the reasons behind the accounting firm’s resignation. The audit expert concluded that the resignation was appropriate and warranted, in accordance with professional and industry practice. The matter settled favorably for our client.

Valuation in accordance with GAAP

Brattle was retained to work on behalf of a Fortune 500 technology company in a post-M&A dispute with its M&A counterparty. The two companies disputed the classification of leases and valuation of underlying leased IT equipment in accordance with GAAP. Brattle supported a valuation expert who opined regarding the latter. An arbitration panel relied on the opinions and testimony of the client’s experts, including Brattle’s expert, and awarded over $600 million to the client.

Accounting, internal controls, and damages in an M&A matter

A law firm retained Brattle to work on behalf of a private equity firm that had sold one of its portfolio companies. The buyer of the acquired company alleged that the company’s financial statements inflated the carrying value of its fixed assets. As a result, the buyer accused the private equity firm of breaching certain representations and warranties in the acquisition agreement. A Brattle principal analyzed and opined regarding the acquired company’s accounting and internal controls for fixed assets, and damages issues. The matter settled favorably for the client.

Accounting and internal controls

The SEC retained Brattle in a matter in which the SEC alleged that a company’s financial executives had manipulated internal controls to allow improper premature revenue recognition. Brattle supported an accounting and internal controls expert who examined the various internal controls claimed to be effective by the defendants, and opined that the company actually had a material weakness in its internal controls that the defendants failed to disclose to its auditors and in its financial statements. The SEC settled this matter with the defendants.

Forensic accounting related to internal trading records

In an insurance dispute between Brattle’s client, a broker-dealer, and a large bank whose natural gas trader was alleged to have caused hundreds of millions in trading losses, the bank alleged that an employee of Brattle’s client colluded with the bank’s trader by providing incorrect pricing inputs to the bank’s internal auditors. Brattle traced and analyzed the bank’s internal trading records, replicated internal valuation, and performed a forensic accounting analysis of the bank’s journal entries and financial restatements to determine the portion of losses possibly related to potential pricing irregularities, as opposed to losses caused by unrelated causes. The case was settled on favorable terms for our client.

Tax accounting in IRS dispute

In Ambac’s bankruptcy proceeding, Brattle evaluated and opined on the proper tax accounting for Ambac in its tax dispute with the IRS regarding the taxpayer’s $700 million tax refund during the global financial crisis. The dispute involved the appropriate taxation of credit derivatives, an unsettled area in tax policies and regulation. Brattle’s expert explained the difference between financial accounting, statutory accounting, and tax accounting for the financial losses. The case settled in our client’s favor.

Managerial and cost accounting

In MetWest’s 36(b) mutual fund excessive advisory fee litigation, Brattle consultants supported a cost accounting expert to analyze the reasonableness of the cost allocation methodology as applied to its various proprietary mutual funds for investment management and related services. Brattle’s team also reviewed and tested the sensitivity of alternative cost allocations to the funds, and developed a sophisticated analytical framework to assess fund-level profitability. The court found in favor of our client.

Forensic accounting in an international arbitration

In an ICSID arbitration, a construction company, Bayindir Insaat Turizm Ticaret Ve Sanayi A.S., claimed damages from Pakistan for terminating the company’s construction contract early. Due to this early termination, the construction company was no longer able to recoup profits from the investments it had made as contracted and further lost its right to future development and corresponding profits. Brattle experts analyzed the financial accounting records and documentation of the construction company to assess the lost profits and consequential damages. As part of this work, we evaluated intercompany transfers and undertook accounting forensic analyses.

Disclosure adequacy and information materiality

On behalf of Deutsche Bank, Brattle analyzed Enron’s special purpose vehicle (SPV) transactions, the associated OBS debt, Enron’s securities disclosure, and stock and bond valuations. In the adversary proceedings, Brattle sponsored two testifying experts to opine on the accounting of certain transactions involving Deutsche Bank, and analyzed the transactions’ impact on Enron’s key financial ratios and their potential contribution to Enron’s credit downgrade and ultimate bankruptcy. The case settled before trial in Deutsche Bank’s favor.

Forensic accounting for fiber optics

On behalf of the board of directors for Global Crossing, Brattle examined the business purposes of the company’s fiber optic capacity transactions under indefeasible rights of use; reviewed internal accounting policies and the relevant accounting standards on leases and exchanges of non-monetary assets; and conducted a forensic analysis of the associated accounting records. In addition, Brattle investigated Global Crossing’s pro forma accounting and disclosure.

IFRS asset impairment

For a Brazilian company involved in a dispute with a minority shareholder regarding certain accounting measures that were used in a covenant clause, Brattle provided testimony on the distinction between impairment of productive assets under GAAP and IFRS. Specifically, we determined that the assets correctly had been impaired under IFRS, but would not have been impaired under GAAP. The analysis required us to reverse the write-up of assets relied upon under IFRS. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) tribunal found in favor of our client.

Experts
Brattle Experts & Consultants
Academic Advisors & Other Outside Experts
Shannon W. Anderson
Academic Advisor
University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management
View Bio
Peter Easton
Outside Expert
University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business
View Bio
John Ellingsen
Outside Expert
Ellingsen Consulting
View Bio
Gordon Klein
Outside Expert
University of California, Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management
View Bio
Edward Maydew
Academic Advisor
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
View Bio
Roman L. Weil
Outside Expert
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
View Bio
Publications
Article
Coronavirus (COVID-19) May Bring Litigation Fever
March 13, 2020
Published in Securities Regulation Daily
Presentation
Introduction to Capital Structure & Liability Management
August 21, 2018
Presented at the American Gas Association (AGA)/Edison Electric Institute (EEI) "Introduction and Advanced Public Utility Accounting Courses"
Book
Financial Accounting for MBAs
2018
Peter Easton, Robert Halsey, Mary Lea McAnally, and John Wild
Published by Cambridge Business Publishers LLC, Chicago. First Edition, 2003, Second Edition, 2005, Third Edition 2008, Fourth Edition, 2010, Fifth Edition 2013, Sixth Edition, 2015, Seventh Edition, 2018.
Book
Financial Statement Analysis and Valuation
2018
Peter Easton, Mary Lea McAnally, Greg Sommers, and Xiao-Jun Zhang
Published by Cambridge Business Publishers LLC, Chicago. First Edition, 2008, Second Edition, 2010, Third Edition, 2013, Fourth Edition, 2015, Fifth Edition, 2018.
Article
The Do's And (Mostly) Don'ts Of Non-GAAP Measures
March 03, 2017
Published in Law360

In a Law360 article, Brattle Principal Adoria Lim and Associate Chi Cheng studied the correspondence between numerous companies and the SEC to identify and categorize the SEC’s hot buttons that may lead to enforcement actions, including litigation.

Article
Non-GAAP Measures: The SEC Awakens
December 22, 2015
Published in Practice Points, a publication of the ABA's Securities Litigation Committee
Article
The unaccounted cost of accounting – sounding terms in purchase agreements
December 2015
Published in the December 2015 issue of Financier Worldwide
Article
What Makes Securities Class Actions with Accounting Allegations Different?
2011
Elaine Harwood, Adoria Lim, and Laura Simmons
Published by the American Bar Association
News & Knowledge
November 04, 2020
Brattle Economists Author Article on Goodwill Impairments Related to COVID-19

Brattle Principal Bin Zhou and Associate Adrienna Huffman have coauthored a Law360 article that uses the Great Recession as a lens through which to examine the types of securities litigation that may arise because of goodwill impairments recognized following the COVID-19 pandemic and the related market downturn.

May 11, 2020
Brattle Experts Author Article on Quantitative Materiality Assessment Methods

Brattle Principal Bin Zhou, Associate Adrienna Huffman, and Senior Associate Chi Cheng have published a Law360 article that uses a new dataset to show how experts could potentially use data-driven quantitative methods to assess accounting materiality in accounting materiality disputes.

March 13, 2020
Brattle Experts Author Article on Types of Litigation That May Arise as a Result of COVID-19

Brattle Principal Adoria Lim and Associate Jack Turner have authored an article on the types of litigation that may arise as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

August 07, 2019
Adoria Lim and Chi Cheng to Participate in Webinar on Preparing for the SEC's Financial Fraud Probes

Brattle Principal Adoria Lim and Associate Chi Cheng will participate in the webinar, “Preparing for the SEC’s Financial Fraud Probes: What Companies Need to Know,” which will take place on August 7, 12:00–1:00 p.m. (ET). 

October 01, 2018
Torben Voetmann to Present at Practising Law Institute's Program on Finance for Lawyers and Other Professionals

Brattle Principal Torben Voetmann will speak at Practising Law Institute’s (PLI) program, “Pocket MBA 2018: Finance for Lawyers and Other Professionals,” to be held October 1-2 in San Francisco, CA and via webcast.

October 19, 2017
Torben Voetmann to Present at Practising Law Institute's (PLI's) Program on Finance for Lawyers and Other Professionals

Brattle Principal Torben Voetmann will present at Practising Law Institute’s (PLI) program, “Pocket MBA 2017: Finance for Lawyers and Other Professionals,” taking place October 19-20, 2017 in San Francisco, CA and via webcast.

August 22, 2017
Bente Villadsen to Participate in EEI and AGA Introduction to Public Utility Accounting Courses

Brattle Principal Bente Villadsen will present at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and American Gas Association’s (AGA) Introduction and Advanced Public Utility Accounting Courses, taking place August 21-24, 2017 in Minneapolis, MN.

March 03, 2017
Non-GAAP Measures: Do's and (Mostly) Don'ts

In a new Law360 article, Brattle Principal Adoria Lim and Associate Chi Cheng studied the correspondence between numerous companies and the SEC to identify and categorize the SEC’s hot buttons that may lead to enforcement actions, including litigation.

February 22, 2016
Brattle Economists Author Law360 Article on New Accounting Standards' Impact on Litigation

Brattle Principal Adoria Lim and Associate Chi Cheng have authored an article for Law360 on the ongoing changes in the U.S. accounting standards initiated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and their impact on litigation.

December 22, 2015
Adoria Lim Comments on Non-GAAP Measures in ABA's Practice Points Publication

Brattle Principal Adoria Lim contributed to Practice Points, a publication of the ABA’s Securities Litigation Committee, on the use of non-GAAP measures.