Accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP has settled a $3 billion negligence lawsuit in the middle of a trial lasting weeks over its alleged responsibility for the 2011 collapse of commodities brokerage MF Global Holdings.
MF Global’s bankruptcy administrator and PwC each said that the settlement terms were confidential, but that the lawsuit has been resolved “to the mutual satisfaction of the parties”.
The settlement deal should be the last remaining piece of litigation relating to the bankrupt financial services firm, following earlier settlements benefiting shareholders, bondholders and customers.
The world’s biggest professional services firm by annual revenues had been accused of advising MF Global to account for repurchase-to-maturity transactions as if they were sales and immediately booking the revenues up to 21 months before they actually rolled in. In fact, the deals were not sales and the company shouldn’t have processed the revenues. MF Global’s administrator also faults PwC’s advice on some deferred tax assets, on which the company took a $119 million write-off just six days before going bust.
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PwC Wanted to Throw Out
Meanwhile, PwC’s lawyers argued in Manhattan Federal Court that the company’s officers, including Corzine, were behind the scheme and that it merely confirmed to them that the accounting was legal. PricewaterhouseCoopers was facing as much as $3 billion in damages if found guilty.
The decision to settle, for a confidential sum, ends a trial that began on March 7 in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, which featured several witnesses including former New Jersey governor and CEO of MF Global Inc Jon Corzine.
Nader Tavakoli, the bankruptcy plan administrator of the brokerage, was suing PwC, the former auditor of MF Global, claiming that its negligence and malpractice led to the New York brokerage’s collapse in 2011.
MF Global originally filed for bankruptcy back in October 2011 amidst investor worry over its repeated credit rating downgrades and margin calls. Corzine’s unsuccessful $6.3 billion wager on European sovereign debt was largely seen as the last straw. The investment strategy was championed by Mr. Corzine, who rose through the ranks as a bond trader at Goldman.