The French firm that has taken the Arthur Andersen & Co. name is suing Andersen Tax LLC, accusing it of forgery and other crimes, as the battle over the Andersen name heats up.
The two groups have been battling over the Andersen name since Stéphane Laffont-Réveilhac, global managing partner of Arthur Andersen, announced in March that he had reconstituted the former Big Four firm in 16 countries, including the United States (see Firms vie over rights to Arthur Andersen name). The original Arthur Andersen collapsed in the wake of the accounting scandals of the early 2000s.
A group of former Andersen partners established a firm called WTAS, which was renamed Andersen Tax after the partners acquired the rights to the Andersen brand in 2014 and expanded the firm abroad. Andersen Tax filed suit against the French firm in several countries, and has won legal settlements in the U.S., India and Brazil in which several local firms agreed to stop using the Andersen name, prompting the French firms to focus its growth plans on Europe (see ‘Reconstituted’ Arthur Andersen closes U.S. offices amid trademark infringement suit). Now the French firm is filing suit in France against Andersen Tax.
In a LinkedIn post Tuesday, Laffont-Réveilhac announced his firm has filed suit against Andersen Tax accusing it of use of forged documents and attempt to obtain rulings using forgeries. He said his network has been the “victim of many hostile actions” and has been “persistently denigrated by Andersen Tax LLC representatives and their accomplices.” He said some of the affiliated members of his network in the U.S. Brazil and India had to stop the use of the Arthur Andersen and Andersen brands because of the threats and “constant harassment.”
“Considering these extremely serious illegal actions, that confirm the absence of any right legitimately acquired previously by Andersen Tax LLC on the Arthur Andersen and Andersen notorious trademarks, Arthur Andersen & Co., upon instruction of its President, Mr Stéphane Laffont-Réveilhac, has seized: The Paris Court through direct criminal summons against Andersen Tax LLC and Mr Mark L. Vorsatz and the Attorneys General in the United States (New York), India (Mumbai), Brazil (Sao Paulo) and the Netherlands Antilles (Willemstad, Curaçao),” he wrote.
“Andersen Tax LLC directors has openly cheated and lied, to the detriment of the public, some judges, the Arthur Andersen’s alumni, their own employees and affiliated members,” Laffont-Réveilhac said in a statement. “Such conducts are offensive and inexcusable. That’s the opposite of our values. What we are facing will only make our network stronger. We are fighting this situation united with our Members, with courage, humbleness and determination. We are free and most of all proud of the work we are doing in order to regain the excellence of Arthur Andersen worldwide. We are continuing our relentless efforts to rebuild the network and defend its historical values.”
Andersen Tax CEO Mark Vorsatz said his firm has not been served with any lawsuit yet. “The only thing that we have observed is some rambling statement on their LinkedIn account,” he wrote in an email to Accounting Today. “I find it amusing that, in addition to a criminal action against me, they plan to file an action against the Attorney General for the state of NY (obviously, they don’t even understand that trademarks are a federal matter and the state has nothing to do with it—plus the legal action and decision was in the SF Federal District), India and Brazil. As you know, we have obtained permanent injunctions in the US, Brazil and India and are pursuing actions in other countries.”
Of Laffont-Réveilhac, Vorsatz wrote, “I don’t know this individual, but I do understand that he never worked at Andersen. As I think that you know, I was at AA for 23 years, a partner for over 15, and the entire original group of over 180 people came from AA. In addition, many of the practices that we have added (all of Mexico—legal and tax—all of Guatemala—legal and tax—France, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, etc.) came from Andersen. I do understand that this individual worked in marketing at PW and also markets a line of perfume. Maybe, the latter is a better career pursuit for him.”
Laffont-Réveilhac did not reply to a request for comment.
Vorsatz is confident the courts will side with Andersen Tax against Laffont-Réveilhac’s firm. “We have gone from the ridiculous to the absurd,” he said. “I am looking forward to his filing a criminal action against the Attorney General in NY because the federal US courts indicated that he has absolutely no rights and no claims—just a Big Mouth. We are looking forward to a resolution of our monetary claims.”
In the meantime, Vorsatz plans to continue expanding Andersen Tax. “This has created confusion in the marketplace,” he said. “Nevertheless, we have added 11 new locations this year and expect to add at least six more in the third quarter.”
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