Sidley Austin LLP announced that Matthew D. Lerner has joined the firm’s Washington, D.C. office as a partner and a co-global coordinator of the Tax Controversy practice.
Mr. Lerner has nearly 30 years of experience practicing in the area of federal taxation, with substantial experience in civil and criminal tax controversies and civil litigation related to tax strategies, as well as business planning and advice. His experience broadly covers all stages of the Internal Revenue Service’s administrative audit and appeals processes, as well as litigation in Tax Court, the Court of Federal Claims and federal district courts. He is experienced in handling tax controversies for corporations, partnerships and individuals, and has significant experience with many of the IRS alternative dispute resolution procedures. He also regularly advises on pre-audit issues regarding document organization, retention practices and disclosure obligations. Mr. Lerner also handles state and local tax controversies.
Mr. Lerner has been recognized for his accomplishments and is nationally ranked inChambers USA and America’s Leading Business Lawyers. He regularly publishes on tax issues and is a frequent speaker at tax conferences, including the prestigious Tax Executive Institute.
“I have known Matt professionally and personally for many years,” said Jay Zimbler, global coordinator of Sidley’s Tax Controversy practice. “He has a broad range of experience and deep understanding of tax controversy issues, as well as high intellect and integrity. We are excited that he has joined our team of lawyers providing counsel to clients in federal and state tax disputes nationwide.”
“Matt’s depth of knowledge on various tax issues and litigation skills will be a valuable asset to our clients and an excellent complement to the firm’s global practice,” said Mark Hopson, managing partner of Sidley’s Washington, D.C. office and member of the firm’s Management Committee. “We look forward to working with Matt to serve our clients.”
Mr. Lerner was ranked by Chambers USA in 2012 and 2013 for America’s Leading Business Lawyers, Tax Controversy: Nationwide. The Best Lawyers of America recognized Mr. Lerner in 2012, 2013 and 2014 for Tax Litigation and Controversy. Additionally, Legal 500 US 2013 recommended Mr. Lerner for Tax: Controversy and Domestic Tax: East Coast.
alliantgroup has announced the appointment of Kathy Petronchak, former IRS Commissioner of Small Business/Self- Employed Division (SB/SE), as the firm’s Director of IRS Dispute Resolution. Petronchak brings with her 34 years of experience in directing IRS compliance activities and providing tax controversy services. In her new role, Petronchak will be reaching out to CPAs and American businesses, helping alliantgroup’s clients navigate IRS procedures and the U.S. tax code.
“I am excited for the opportunity to join this exceptional team,” Petronchak said. “I am looking forward to serving as an advisor for our clients and in helping CPAs and U.S. businesses better understand the options available to them in resolving disputes with the IRS.”
In a career that includes service within both the federal government and the private sector, Petronchak has worked with a countless number of businesses in examination from both the government’s perspective and in the position of audit defense. In her 29 years with the IRS, she has held a number of roles within the Service, including her time as IRS Commissioner of SB/SE from 2006-2008, a role in which she worked directly with small and mid-sized businesses and practitioners on compliance with IRS standards. She was also appointed Chief of Staff under former IRS Commissioner and current alliantgroup Vice Chairman,Mark W. Everson, and was highly praised for the leadership she brought to this position.
“It is a privilege to be working again with Kathy Petronchak,” Everson said. “The judgment Kathy brings from her extensive experience across different IRS operations will be a real asset to alliantgroup and the businesses we serve.”
Petronchak has served as the Chair of the AICPA IRS Practice and Procedures Committee and currently serves as the immediate past chair. She has also been a frequent speaker for AICPA tax controversy conference events. Most recently, Petronchak was a Director at Deloitte Tax LLP, where she specialized in the area of tax controversy services, providing support for clients in their issues with the IRS. In her new role, Petronchak will be advising businesses of all sizes in their dealings with the Service, helping them identify options for resolving disputes.
“I am thrilled to have Kathy join our team here at alliantgroup,” said alliantgroup COO Shane T. Frank. “Her experience with the IRS and knowledge of the Service’s standards will serve our clients well in navigating IRS waters.”
Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP has announced that David B. Massey, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has joined the firm’s New York office as a partner.
Mr. Massey joins the firm following a distinguished career in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan from 2004 to 2013. As a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, he represented the United States in numerous high profile criminal cases, including the insider trading prosecutions of Joseph Skowron, Rengan Rajaratnam, and John Kinnucan. Mr. Massey also led the prosecution of the Swiss bank Wegelin & Co., the first-ever indictment and guilty plea of a foreign bank for tax fraud, and he led the negotiation of a non-prosecution agreement with Liechtensteinische Landesbank, an agreement that included a change in Liechtenstein law that effectively ended bank secrecy there for U.S. taxpayers. In 2010-2011 and 2013, as Acting Tax Coordinator, Mr. Massey managed the Office’s criminal tax program and authorized indictments and plea dispositions in criminal tax cases.
Lee Richards, a founding partner of Richards Kibbe & Orbe said “David has done extraordinary work in prosecuting securities and tax fraud cases, and he understands these issues as well as anyone in New York. We’re very pleased to add an attorney with such deep expertise, exceptional trial experience, and proven leadership abilities. David will play an important role in delivering results for clients that look to us for advice and representation in complex securities, tax, and white collar matters and investigations on both the criminal and civil side.”
“I’m thrilled to join a firm that is so highly regarded for its work in securities enforcement and white collar defense work,” said Mr. Massey. “I was drawn to RK&O in part because the litigation work they do is a great fit with my experience as Assistant U.S. Attorney. It’s also an opportunity to work with a group of highly skilled and entrepreneurial attorneys, a number of whom share my background as a former prosecutor.”
At RK&O, Mr. Massey will focus on securities enforcement, white collar criminal defense, government and internal investigations and civil litigation. He will counsel individual and corporate clients in a range of complex issues, including SEC enforcement actions and grand jury investigations.
Mr. Massey was also formerly an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and a law clerk for the Honorable Pierre N. Leval of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was Symposium Editor of the Yale Law Journal, an M. Phil in International Relations from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar, and a B.A., summa cum laude, from Yale College (Phi Beta Kappa)
Steptoe & Johnson LLP has announced that Rob Kovacev, a former senior litigation counsel in the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Tax Division, has joined the firm as a partner. Mr. Kovacev’s arrival continues the expansion of Steptoe’s Tax Group, which welcomed partner Bob Rizzi in October.
As senior litigation counsel in the DOJ’s Tax Division, Mr. Kovacev litigated high-profile civil tax cases and developed substantial trial experience. He was lead trial counsel in several complex tax cases involving cross-border transactions, Section 482 disputes, claims for research credits and foreign tax credits, corporate reorganizations and acquisitions, and valuation of pharmaceutical patents and other intellectual property. The amounts at issue in each of these cases ranged from $10 million to more than $1 billion in claimed tax benefits. Mr. Kovacev was also lead counsel in several summons enforcement matters of the highest priority to the IRS.
While at the DOJ, Mr. Kovacev gained particular experience regarding the IRS’s use of the economic substance, substance over form, and sham partnership doctrines to disallow the tax benefits of transactions that comply with the technical requirements of the tax code. For example, Mr. Kovacev was lead trial counsel for the United States in AWG Leasing, involving a cross-border leveraged leasing transaction. The court in AWG Leasing disallowed over $100 million in tax benefits from that transaction, and sustained the IRS’s determination of penalties against the taxpayer. Mr. Kovacev was also on the trial team for the Southgate Master Fundcase, in which the court disallowed more than $1 billion in tax benefits arising from a distressed debt transaction based on the court’s interpretation of the sham partnership doctrine.
In welcoming Mr. Kovacev to Steptoe, firm Chair Roger Warin commented: “Our tax controversy practice has been a mainstay of our Tax Group for decades. Rob will help bolster the next generation of lead tax controversy partners with a smart, effective, well-credentialed tax litigator who has first-chair trial experience in significant cases.”
Steptoe’s Tax Controversy practice includes experienced litigators who have served as Justice Department trial and appellate attorneys, judicial law clerks, and Treasury officials. The practice combines trial-tested litigation skills with up-to-date substantive tax experience. Steptoe’s highly regarded tax group has earned top rankings and recommendations from the prestigious legal directories Chambers USA and The Legal 500, among other publications.
“Steptoe’s tax practice has a superb reputation, and I’m delighted to be a part of it,” said Mr. Kovacev. “As the IRS and DOJ Tax Division deploy tax shelter tools against transactions that are not generally considered abusive tax shelters, unwary taxpayers will be caught surprised. I look forward to using the experience I gained as a DOJ tax litigator to help taxpayers meet the challenges they will face in this new environment.”
Mr. Kovacev won several awards for his work at the DOJ Tax Division, including the John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation, the Tax Division’s Outstanding Attorney award (three times), and the Mitchell Rogovin Award, the IRS’s award for outstanding support to the Office of Chief Counsel.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Kovacev earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Columbia Law Review, a Kent Scholar and a Stone Scholar. He clerked for the Honorable M. Blane Michael on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and worked in private practice before joining the government in 2006.
Eversheds has appointed Deloitte Indirect Tax Litigation Director, Giles Salmond, as a partner in its London tax team. He will lead the VAT disputes and Indirect Taxes practice.
An indirect tax litigation specialist, Giles has represented a wide variety of companies across all sectors including multinationals and UK PLCs.
After being called to the Bar, Giles practised for 6 years at the Solicitor’s Office for HM Customs and Excise where he undertook complex prosecution work and latterly civil VAT and customs duty litigation, including many appearances before the VAT and Duties Tribunals. Giles then joined Garretts, the law firm associated with Andersen, before transitioning to Andersen and then Deloitte in 2002, where he became a Director in 2006.
A highly experienced litigator, Giles has a significant profile in the market having acted in a large number of cases both before the UK courts and tribunals and the European Court of Justice. His wealth of experience includes appearing as an advocate before the ECJ in a complex customs valuation case relating to the EU’s international agreements on trade (GATT and WTO).
Giles has been at the forefront of many landmark VAT cases, including acting for Condé Nast in the leading VAT case on time limits which established that the introduction of the three year cap in 1997 without transitional provisions was unlawful.
Giles has also been intrinsic in the mediation of tax disputes. He was involved in the first UK tax mediation and has since acted in a number of successful tax mediations.
Commenting on his appointment, David Jervis Head of tax said:
“Giles has developed a strong reputation in the market having acted for a wide range of clients across all sectors including consumer business, leisure and the financial services sector, having been involved in a number of high profile disputes with the tax authorities. We have recruited him to lead our VAT disputes practice at Eversheds.
“Giles’s appointment is a great addition to the team, to provide our UK and multinational clients with market leading expertise in complex VAT disputes.”
Giles Salmond commented:
“I look forward to joining Eversheds in the new year and working with the existing team to expand its capabilities and take on new mandates.”
Devereux Chambers has announced that Timothy Brennan QC has been elected to succeed Ingrid Simler QC as Head of Chambers. He takes up the position on Monday 21 October 2013.
Ingrid Simler QC steps down following her appointment to the High Court bench; she takes up that appointment on Monday 28 October 2013.
Timothy Brennan QC practises public and commercial litigation in the High Court and above and in statutory and domestic tribunals. His main areas of work are tax and other commercial litigation, judicial review and other public law litigation, employment and discrimination. He occasionally accepts instructions outside these fields.
He has particular familiarity with employment remuneration and is frequently engaged in litigation and advice concerning taxation of employment income, remuneration structures, bonuses, employment related securities, third party employment income, employment status, benefits and statutory rights.
He has appeared in a number of disciplinary cases concerning the behaviour of professionals in the fields of medicine, law and education.
Timothy Brennan is authorised to sit as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Queen’s Bench Division, the Administrative Court and the Chancery Division. He sits as a Recorder in the Crown Court.
He has also been a part-time Judge of the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
He is a contributing editor of ‘Harvey on Industrial Relations and Employment Law’ (LexisNexis).
He is experienced in a wide range of business, financial and employment matters, particularly those involving technical questions of statutory construction.
Recent notable cases include:
Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher  UKSC 41 (employment status, ‘sham’ substitution and ‘no obligation’ clauses, whether employee, worker, or independent contractor)
Yukos v Russia  STC 1988 (ECHR, tax fraud, Art 6, Art 1 Protocol 1)
R (Prudential plc) v Special Commissioner  EWCA Civ 1094 (statutory investigation powers; no legal professional privilege for accountants giving tax advice)
HM Revenue & Customs v Smallwood  EWCA Civ 778,  STC 2045 (tax avoidance through double tax treaties; place of effective management and the ‘Round the World Scheme’)
Brown, PC, the Texas-based boutique law firm with a nationwide US practice handling tax controversies and tax litigation, has announced the addition of experienced tax attorney Cynthia Cook as senior counsel.
Ms. Cook has special expertise representing clients in civil and criminal tax cases, IRS audits and appeals, and business and employment tax matters. With more than two decades of experience, she provides sophisticated and effective counsel for clients in matters before the U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, U.S. District Courts, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In addition to her law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law, Ms. Cook earned her Master of Laws in Taxation from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. She secured her undergraduate degree from Wichita State University..
“At Brown, PC, our experienced attorneys and veteran former IRS investigators and accountants take a team approach to high-level, high-stakes litigation involving civil and criminal tax matters,” says firm founder Lawrence Brown. “Cynthia’s extensive legal experience and specific tax expertise will make her a key member of our team.”
Founded in 1992, Brown, PC, represents clients in the most complex IRS audits and appeals, civil tax litigation, asset forfeiture actions, IRS criminal tax matters and IRS tax collection disputes. The firm’s clients include ultra-high-net-worth individuals and businesses located throughout the United States and around the world.
Devereux has announced that Head of Chambers, Ingrid Simler QC, has been appointed to the High Court bench. She has been assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division.
Acting Head of Chambers, Bruce Carr QC comments “We are very proud of and pleased for Ingrid. She has been a great friend and colleague of all of us for many years. We are delighted for her but at the same time will miss her presence and contribution to Chambers.”
Ingrid Simler QC is a leading silk, recognised for her expertise across a range of areas including Employment Law, Tax Litigation, Public and Administrative Law, and Human Rights. Her employment practice covers all aspects of employment law, from high value discrimination cases to injunctions restraining team moves. Ingrid has expertise in handling individual and corporate domicile and residence litigation for tax purposes, both for and against tax-payers. She has been involved in most (if not all) individual domicile and residence cases taken by HMRC over the last decade, and most recently appeared for HMRC in the Supreme Court in the landmark case concerning HMRC’s published guidance, IR20: Gaines-Cooper & Davies & James v HMRC  UKSC 47.
The Ministry of Justice announcement was as follows: “The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Miss Ingrid Ann Simler, Q.C., to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 28 October 2013 on the retitrement of Mr. Justice Henriques.
The Lord Chief Justice will assign Miss Simler to the Queen’s Bench Division.”