Lehman: How $50bn was buried in London
$50bn is not a trivial sum to hide from investors, creditors, rating agencies and the US government.
Which is why the assertion by a US court-appointed examiner that Lehman used an accounting ruse to keep from public view some $50bn of loans and investments - and thus appear to be taking fewer risks than was really the case - is a serious charge.
To be clear, the examiner does not say that this device was responsible for Lehman's collapse. Its demise stemmed from its excessive investments in the US commercial property market and its dangerous reliance on short-term finance that could and was withdrawn.
However Lehman might well have collapsed earlier if the full extent of its loans and investments had been in the public domain.
Which is why it is at the very least highly embarrassing for Ernst & Young that the examiner says that global accounting firm is liable to claims for damages because of its alleged "failure to question and challenge improper disclosures" by Lehman.
And the examiner also says claims can be made against Dick Fuld, Lehman's erstwhile chairman, and a trio of its former chief financial officers.
Lehman's creditors and investors will be studying the examiner's report in a forensic way, to assess whether they should sue those criticised in the report.
Meanwhile there is also some unattractive publicity for the London law firm Linklaters and for the now controversial light-touch regulatory culture that existed in the UK till recently.
The examiner says that the so-called "Repo 105" programme that allowed Lehman to hide that $50bn of assets was not permitted by any US law firm.
So Lehman obtained an "opinion letter" from Linklaters in London that said the relevant deals were permissible under English law - and the relevant transactions that hid the assets were then conducted through Lehman's London operations.
There's no suggestion that this was illegal or in breach of any rules.
But some would say it is unedifying that the deals that buried the $50bn of assets were not permissible on Wall Street but could be done in London.