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Thought Leaders

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Laureen Ryan

Laureen Ryan

Alvarez & Marsal600 Madison Avenue, 8th FloorNew YorkNew YorkUSA10022

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Laureen Ryan is a highly experienced and well-thought-of forensic accountant whose first-class practice covers issues such as fraud allegations and financial reporting.

Questions & Answers

Ms Ryan specialises in accounting/forensic investigations and compliance; and disputes with complex economic, valuation, solvency and financial issues. With over 25 years of experience, she has advised boards, corporations and stakeholders to help resolve high-stakes financial, regulatory and legal issues. She has been appointed by various courts and retained to investigate, oversee, monitor and report on various banking and corporate activities, including those related to compliance, financial reporting and internal controls.

Describe your career to date.

I began my career with Ernst & Young, providing audit and advisory services in the New York and London offices, and working on matters involving allegations of accounting malpractice and fraud as a member of the national financial services office. Next, I joined a boutique firm, which was acquired by FTI Consulting, where I helped build and provide investigation and dispute services as a senior managing director. Later, I joined Alvarez & Marsal as a managing director where I perform similar services.

I hold a BS in accounting and economics; am licensed as a certified public accountant (CPA); and hold certifications as a certified fraud examiner (CFA), an accredited business valuer (ABV), a certified distressed business valuer (CDBV) and a certified insolvency and restructuring adviser (CIRA). I am a founding member of the International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC).

What makes forensic accounting such a fascinating area in which to practise?

We are specialists at unravelling financial and compliance puzzles for businesses, non-profits, governmental entities and individuals, using precise processes and a systematic investigation of data. We work on bankruptcies, asset misappropriations, financial statement fraud, contract disputes, damage calculations, shareholder disputes, and a variety of corporate internal inquiries. Corporations, charities and municipalities engage us to conduct proactive fraud risk assessments, or to evaluate and bolster their internal controls, so they can prevent or deter fraudulent activity before it occurs.

Attorneys use forensic accountants to assist in translating complex financial issues into a more understandable manner, and these financial issues are often a key factor in the ultimate outcome of the lawsuit. The application of forensic accounting involves a combination of special financial skills, such as accounting, auditing and finance, along with certain non-financial qualities, such as persistence, creativity, judgement, discretion and concise communication skills. This collection of attributes, combined with an inquisitive mind, enables the forensic accountant to investigate and assess the financial merits, as well as the integrity, of the distinct aspects of a litigation case.

What are the main challenges coordinating investigations spanning multiple jurisdictions?

Establishing the scope of work and a protocol up front for the conduct of the investigation, and to ensure coordination among all parties involved in light of inconsistent legal and regulatory regimes. Handling information, and managing the flow of that information to different entities and across borders, which can have consequences under the various laws relating to data privacy, state or regulatory secrecy obligations, reporting obligations and legal privilege. Determining how the results of the investigation will be reported.

How do you effectively prepare yourself when appearing as a witness?

I carefully re-review my expert report, and the materials in support thereof, as well as any additional relevant materials that may have been produced thereafter. I prepare with counsel to understand basic logistics, opposing counsel and ground rules for communications, and I discuss any developments and hypothetical scenarios that could be advanced.

You have worked across a range of industries. How do you ensure you maintain sector-specific knowledge to assist clients effectively?

A forensic accountant investigates and solves complicated financial cases combining a depth of specialised expertise with a distinctive outsider perspective. Due to the unique circumstances of each case, my role differs from one assignment to another and may even change as a case advances through the investigation or litigation process. I bring my collective skills, education and 25-plus years of experience; properly scope the engagement; and study the company, industry and information relevant to every engagement.

What is the most interesting investigation you have worked on?

I would cite three recent investigations where I led the financial advisory teams to the court-appointed examiner.

The first involved Caesars Entertainment, the world’s largest and most geographically diversified casino-entertainment company. The investigation included an analysis and evaluation of the operations of over 52 properties and businesses; various debt transactions; asset transfers related to more than 15 disputed transactions (with values of over US$3 billion); the leveraged buy-out and resulting debt burden; payments to insiders/related parties; debt restructurings; evaluation of the use and worth of the customer loyalty programme; and piercing-the-corporate-veil issues.

As a result, the various parties were armed with objective facts, financial analyses of both historical and prospective operations, valuations and the assessments of potential litigation outcomes, which the debtor/creditors used to arrive at a consensual plan addressing all operational and debt restructurings issues.

The second case concerned Firestar Diamond and its affiliates, who sold finished gold and diamond jewellery to traditional and high-end retailers, such as the Navy, Costco and Zales. The investigation addressed whether the US debtor entities and their directors knowingly participated in an alleged US$4 billion fraud scheme consisting of obtaining bank loans from Punjab National Bank (PNB) using letters of undertaking and foreign letters of credit by manufacturing sham transactions to “import” jewellery into India and the US using a web of secretly controlled shell entities (this was known as “the scheme”). We determined over US$280 million in transactions occurred between the debtors and the alleged fraudulent overseas entities, and linked the debtors and their directors to the alleged US$4 billion fraud.

As a result, the Chapter 11 trustee, PNB, the DOJ and the IRS are armed with objective facts, financial analyses and evidence which are being used to pursue claims and recoveries for creditors.

We then investigated Samuels Jewelers, a large retail and wholesale jewellery chain with over 100 retail locations in the US to determine whether it was involved in the scheme. Over US$100 million in transactions were found to be connected to the scheme, and the findings are being used by the Chapter 7 trustee, the secured lender and others to resolve claims and pursue recoveries.

The reports of all three investigations are publically available.

What are your priorities for Alvarez & Marsal in the near future as the managing director of the firm’s New York office? 

To maintain, grow and cross-train a diversified and integrated team to serve clients with complex issues.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?

Work for a large or medium-sized accounting firm upon graduation to get good early career training. Obtain your CPA licence (or the equivalent) as soon as you can.

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Laureen Ryan comes highly recommended by market sources who applaud her remarkable ability when it comes to providing in-depth economic valuations and reports in complex commercial disputes.

Biography

Laureen M Ryan is a managing director in Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice. She specialises in accounting/forensic investigations and compliance, and disputes with complex economic, valuation, solvency and financial issues. With over 25 years of experience, Ms Ryan has advised boards, corporations and stakeholders to help resolve high-stakes financial, regulatory and legal issues. She has also been appointed by various courts, retained by examiners, and engaged at the request of the NYS Banking Department, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the DOJ, to investigate, oversee, monitor and report on various banking and corporate activities, including those related to compliance, financial reporting and internal controls.

She has led complex multinational investigations, including those involving FCPA and qui tam allegations, and has presented her findings to the SEC, NYS Banking Department, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, US Bankruptcy Court, corporate boards and other venues and constituents. Further, in her fiduciary roles as responsible officer, Chapter 11 trustee and liquidating trustee of various entities in the US and abroad, she conducted investigations, prepared valuation estimates, pursued litigation and resolved complex business, accounting and financial matters.

Ms Ryan has testified, written expert reports, and provided advice in civil and criminal matters in various venues in the US and the ICC International Court of Arbitration. The issues related to financial reporting, regulatory inquiries, financial transactions, escheatment, capital compliance, antitrust, accounting reconstruction, GAAS audits, GAAP accounting, fraud allegations, FCPA and qui tam issues, Ponzi schemes, asset diversion, accounting irregularities, over-billing and other fictitious billing and loan schemes, post-acquisition disputes, contract provisions, cost allocations, solvency and viability, preferences, damages, business valuation, bankruptcy litigation, lost profits, insurance claims, loans and securities. She has also served as a mediator for the Supreme Court of the State of NY.

Ms Ryan has worked across a broad range of industries, including financial institutions, mutual funds, private equity, hedge funds, broker/dealers, mortgage warehousing, structured finance products, derivative instruments, sub-prime and Alt-A loans, student loans, health care and medical claims, cable/telecommunications, hospitality/restaurants, casino/gaming, franchising, manufacturing, auto dealerships/auto parts manufacturing, insurance, real estate, insurance, explosives/mining, trucking, railroad, food distribution and publishing.

Prior to joining A&M, Ms Ryan was a senior managing director at FTI Consulting providing investigation and dispute services. She was instrumental in building FTI's forensic and litigation consulting practice and held various executive leadership positions, including Northeast regional leader and global expansion leader.  In addition, she worked at an affiliate in Sydney, Australia.

She began her career with Ernst & Young (EY) where she provided audit and advisory services in the New York and London offices. She was also a member of EY’s national financial services office where she monitored the audit risk profile of banks and thrifts, provided accounting, auditing and regulatory advice for the US and abroad, and worked on matters involving allegations of accounting malpractice and fraud.

Ms Ryan earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from SUNY at Oswego. She is a certified public accountant (CPA), certified fraud examiner (CFE), accredited business valuer (ABV), certified distressed business valuer (CDBV) and certified insolvency and restructuring adviser (CIRA). She is also a founding member of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC).

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Laureen Ryan is a highly experienced and well-thought-of forensic accountant whose first-class practice covers issues such as fraud allegations and financial reporting.

Biography

Laureen M Ryan is a managing director in Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice. She specialises in accounting/forensic investigations and compliance, and disputes with complex economic, valuation, solvency and financial issues. With over 25 years of experience, Ms Ryan has advised boards, corporations and stakeholders to help resolve high-stakes financial, regulatory and legal issues. She has also been appointed by various courts, retained by Examiners, and engaged at the request of the NYS Banking Department, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the DOJ, to investigate, oversee, monitor and report on various banking and corporate activities, including those related to compliance, financial reporting and internal controls.

She has led complex multinational investigations, including those involving FCPA and qui tam allegations, and has presented her findings to the SEC, NYS Banking Department, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, US Bankruptcy Court, corporate boards and other venues and constituents. Further, in her fiduciary roles as responsible officer, Chapter 11 trustee and liquidating trustee of various entities in the US and abroad, she conducted investigations, prepared valuation estimates, pursued litigation and resolved complex business, accounting and financial matters.

Ms Ryan has testified, written expert reports, and provided advice in civil and criminal matters in various venues in the US and the ICC International Court of Arbitration. The issues related to financial reporting, regulatory inquiries, financial transactions, escheatment, capital compliance, antitrust, accounting reconstruction, GAAS audits, GAAP accounting, fraud allegations, FCPA and qui tam issues, Ponzi schemes, asset diversion, accounting irregularities, over-billing and other fictitious billing and loan schemes, post-acquisition disputes, contract provisions, cost allocations, solvency and viability, preferences, damages, business valuation, bankruptcy litigation, lost profits, insurance claims, loans and securities. She has also served as a mediator for the Supreme Court of the State of NY.

Ms Ryan has worked across a broad range of industries, including financial institutions, mutual funds, private equity, hedge funds, broker/dealers, mortgage warehousing, structured finance products, derivative instruments, sub-prime and Alt-A loans, student loans, health care and medical claims, cable/telecommunications, hospitality/restaurants, casino/gaming, franchising, manufacturing, auto dealerships/auto parts manufacturing, insurance, real estate, insurance, explosives/mining, trucking, railroad, food distribution, and publishing.

Prior to joining A&M, Ms Ryan was a senior managing director at FTI Consulting providing investigation and dispute services. She was instrumental in building FTI's forensic and litigation consulting practice and held various executive leadership positions, including Northeast regional leader and global expansion leader.  In addition, she worked at an affiliate in Sydney, Australia.

She began her career with Ernst & Young (EY) where she provided audit and advisory services in the New York and London offices. She was also a member of EY’s national financial services office where she monitored the audit risk profile of banks and thrifts, provided accounting, auditing and regulatory advice for the US and abroad, and worked on matters involving allegations of accounting malpractice and fraud.

Ms Ryan earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from SUNY at Oswego. She is a certified public accountant (CPA), certified fraud examiner (CFE), accredited business valuer (ABV), certified distressed business valuer (CDBV) and certified insolvency and restructuring adviser (CIRA). She is also a founding member of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC).

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Laureen Ryan earns praise as a "technically skilled" and "impressive" practitioner.

Biography

Laureen Ryan is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal who advises boards, corporations and stakeholders to help resolve high stakes financial, regulatory and legal issues.

Over the past 25 years, she has been engaged to investigate, assess, oversee, monitor and report on various banking and corporate activities including those related to compliance, financial reporting and internal controls.  She is also frequently engaged to testify in cases involving accounting / forensic issues and complex economic, valuation, solvency and financial matters.

The complex multinational investigations led by Ms Ryan, including those involving allegations of fraud, accounting irregularities, FCPA and qui tam violations, resulted in presentations to the SEC, NYS Banking Department, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, US Bankruptcy Court, arbitration panels, corporate boards and other constituents. She is also often retained to investigate and assess the value of potential causes of action and then assist in resolving these matters and securing recoveries in a cost-effective manner.

Many of her cases involve fiduciary roles such as examiner, monitor, responsible officer, Chapter 11 or 7 trustee, litigation trustee and liquidating trustee in the US and abroad. Recent examples include SunEdison, WMC Mortgage, Firestar Diamond, and the Caesars Entertainment bankruptcies.

Ms Ryan has testified, written expert reports, and provided advice in civil and criminal matters in various venues in the US and the ICC International Court of Arbitration. The issues related to financial reporting, regulatory inquiries, escheatment, capital compliance, antitrust, accounting reconstruction, GAAS audits, GAAP accounting, fraud, FCPA and qui tam allegations, Ponzi schemes, asset diversion, accounting irregularities, over-billing and other fictitious billing and loan schemes, post-acquisition disputes, contract provisions, cost allocations, solvency and viability, preferences, damages, business valuation, bankruptcy litigation, lost profits, insurance claims, and loan, securities and other financial transactions. She has also served as a mediator for the Supreme Court of the State of NY.

Ms Ryan has worked across a broad range of industries, including financial institutions, mutual funds, private equity, hedge funds, broker/dealers, mortgage warehousing, structured finance products, derivative instruments, sub-prime and Alt-A loans, student loans, health care and medical claims, cable/telecommunications, hospitality/restaurants, casino/gaming, franchising, manufacturing, auto dealerships/auto parts manufacturing, insurance, real estate, renewable energy, biofuels, insurance, explosives/mining, trucking, railroad, food distribution, and publishing.

Prior to joining A&M, Ms Ryan was a senior managing director at FTI Consulting providing investigation and dispute services. She was instrumental in building FTI's forensic and litigation consulting practice and held various executive leadership positions, including Northeast Regional leader and global expansion leader. In addition, she worked at an affiliate in Sydney, Australia.

She began her career with Ernst & Young (EY) where she provided audit and advisory services in the New York and London offices. She was also a member of EY's national financial services office where she monitored the audit risk profile of banks and thrifts, provided accounting, auditing and regulatory advice for the US and abroad, and worked on matters involving allegations of accounting malpractice and fraud.

Ms Ryan earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and economics from SUNY at Oswego. She is a certified public accountant (CPA), certified fraud examiner (CFE), accredited business valuer (ABV), certified distressed business valuer (CDBV) and certified insolvency and restructuring adviser (CIRA). She is also a founding member of the International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC).

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