A federal bankruptcy judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking as much as $150 million from Seattle accounting firm Moss Adams over its audits of the massive Ponzi scheme at Meridian Mortgage.
In a ruling Thursday, Judge Karen Overstreet wrote that the suit by Meridian bankruptcy trustee Mark Calvert properly belongs in King County Superior Court, where the trustee in 2011 first filed his claim that faulty Moss Adams audits enabled the fraud at Meridian to go undetected for years.
Calvert voluntarily dismissed the Superior Court suit after the judge in that case fined him $74,000 in July 2012 for not complying with her instructions to document how individual investors relied on the CPA firm’s Meridian audits.
In Thursday’s ruling, bankruptcy judge Overstreet wrote that “the Trustee’s actions with regard to the State Court Action support Moss Adams’ contention that his filing of the action in this Court was for the purpose of forum shopping.”
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Calvert’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, said in an email that Overstreet’s ruling means “the case was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds only. It does not relate in any way to the merits.”
He added: “We look forward to continuing the litigation and bringing Moss Adams’ conduct to light.”
Moss Adams, the nation’s 12th-largest CPA firm, audited some of the 10 Meridian Mortgage funds created by Frederick Darren Berg, and did his personal taxes as well. Berg in 2011 pleaded guilty to defrauding investors of more than $100 million and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
In a related dispute in bankruptcy court, Overstreet ruled in April that Moss Adams should pay the bankruptcy trustee for the cost of his lengthy legal battle to get certain information from the CPA firm. She later set the amount at $180,000.
Rami Grunbaum: 206-464-8541 or firstname.lastname@example.org