Accounting scandals

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Accounting scandals are business scandals which arise from intentional manipulation of financial statements with the disclosure of financial misdeeds by trusted executives of corporations or governments. Such misdeeds typically involve complex methods for misusing or misdirecting funds, overstating revenues, understating expenses, overstating [1] the value of corporate assets, or underreporting the existence of liabilities (this can be done either manually, or by the means of deep learning [2] ). It involves an employee, account, or corporation itself and is misleading to investors and shareholders. [3]

Contents

This type of "creative accounting" can amount to fraud, and investigations are typically launched by government oversight agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States. Employees who commit accounting fraud at the request of their employers are subject to personal criminal prosecution. [4]

Two types of fraud

Misappropriation of assets

Misappropriation of assets — often called defalcation or employee fraud — occurs when an employee steals a company's asset, whether those assets are of monetary or physical nature. Typically, assets stolen are cash, or cash equivalents, and company data or intellectual property. [5] However, misappropriation of assets also includes taking inventory out of a facility or using company assets for personal purpose without authorization. Company assets include everything from office supplies and inventory to intellectual property.

Fraudulent financial reporting

Fraudulent financial reporting is also known as earnings management fraud. In this context, management intentionally manipulates accounting policies or accounting estimates to improve financial statements. Public and private corporations commit fraudulent financial reporting to secure investor interest or obtain bank approvals for financing, as justifications for bonuses or increased salaries or to meet expectations of shareholders. [6] The Securities and Exchange Commission has brought enforcement actions against corporations for many types of fraudulent financial reporting, including improper revenue recognition, period-end stuffing, fraudulent post-closing entries, improper asset valuations, and misleading non-GAAP financial measures. [7]

The fraud triangle

The fraud triangle is a model for explaining the factors that cause someone to commit fraudulent behaviors in accounting. It consists of three components, which together, lead to fraudulent behavior:

Incentives/pressures: A common incentive for companies to manipulate financial statement is a decline in the company's financial prospects. Companies may also manipulate earnings to meet analysts' forecasts or benchmarks such as prior-year earnings to: meet debt covenant restrictions, achieve a bonus target based on earnings, or artificially inflate stock prices. As for misappropriation of assets, financial pressures are a common incentive for employees. Employees with excessive financial obligations, or those with substance abuse or gambling problems may steal to meet their personal needs. [9]

Opportunities: Although the financial statements of all companies are potentially subject to manipulation, the risk is greater for companies in industries where significant judgments and accounting estimates are involved. Turnover in accounting personnel or other deficiencies in accounting and information processes can create an opportunity for misstatement. As for misappropriation of assets, opportunities are greater in companies with accessible cash or with inventory or other valuable assets, especially if the assets are small or easily removed. A lack of controls over payments to vendors or payroll systems, can allow employees to create fictitious vendors or employees and bill the company for services or time. [10]

Attitudes/rationalization: The attitude of top management toward financial reporting is a critical risk factor in assessing the likelihood of fraudulent financial statements. If the CEO or other top managers display a significant disregard for the financial reporting process, such as consistently issuing overly optimistic forecasts, or they are overly concerned about the meeting analysts' earnings forecast, fraudulent financial reporting is more likely. Similarly, for misappropriation of assets, if management cheats customers through overcharging for goods or engaging in high-pressure sales tactics, employees may feel that it is acceptable for them to behave in the same fashion. [11]

Causes

A weak internal control is an opportunity for a fraudster. Fraud is not an accounting problem; it is a social phenomenon. If you strip economic crime of its multitudinous variations, there are but three ways a victim can be unlawfully separated from money: by force, stealth or trickery. [12] Lack of transparency in financial transactions is an ideal method to hide a fraud. Poor management information where a company's management system does not produce results that are timely, accurate, sufficiently detailed and relevant. In such case, the warning signal of fraud such as ongoing theft from bank account can be obscured. Lack of an independent audit department within the company is also a sign of weak internal control. Poor accounting practice is also part of a weak internal control. An example of poor accounting practice is failure to make monthly reconciliation of bank account. [13]

A top executive can reduce the price of his/her company's stock easily due to information asymmetry. The executive can accelerate accounting of expected expenses, delay accounting of expected revenue, engage in off balance sheet transactions to make the company's profitability appear temporarily poorer, or simply promote and report severely conservative (e.g. pessimistic) estimates of future earnings. Such seemingly adverse earnings news will be likely to (at least temporarily) reduce share price. (This is again due to information asymmetries since it is more common for top executives to do everything they can to window dress their company's earnings forecasts.

Top managers tend to share price to make a company an easier takeover target. When the company gets bought out (or taken private) – at a dramatically lower price – the takeover artist gains a windfall from the former top executive's actions to surreptitiously reduce share price. This can represent tens of billions of dollars (questionably) transferred from previous shareholders to the takeover artist. The former top executive is then rewarded with a golden handshake for presiding over the firesale that can sometimes be in the hundreds of millions of dollars for one or two years of work. [14]

Similar issues occur when a publicly held asset or non-profit organization undergoes privatization. Top executives often reap tremendous monetary benefits when a government-owned or non-profit entity is sold to private hands. Just as in the example above, they can facilitate this process by making the entity appear to be in financial crisis – this reduces the sale price (to the profit of the purchaser), and makes non-profits and governments more likely to sell. It can also contribute to a public perception that private entities are more efficiently run, thereby reinforcing the political will to sell off public assets. Again, due to asymmetric information, policy makers and the general public see a government-owned firm that was a financial 'disaster' – miraculously turned around by the private sector (and typically resold) within a few years. Under the Special Plea in Fraud statute, “the government must ‘establish by clear and convincing evidence that the contractor knew that its submitted claims were false, and that it intended to defraud the government by submitting those claims.’” Mere negligence, inconsistency, or discrepancies are not actionable under the Special Plea in Fraud statute. [15]

Not all accounting scandals are caused by top executives. The proceedings can take so long to come to trial that one executive saw the charges against him dismissed. [16] Often managers and employees are pressured or willingly alter financial statements for the personal benefit of the individuals over the company. Managerial opportunism plays a large role in these scandals. For example, managers who would be compensated more for short-term results would report inaccurate information, since short-term benefits outweigh the long-term ones such as pension obligations. [17]

List of biggest accounting scandals

CompanyYearAudit FirmCountryNotes
Fred Stern & Company 1925Touche, Niven & Co.United States
Hatry Group 1929United Kingdom
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company 1931United Kingdom
Interstate Hosiery Mills 1937Homes and DavisUnited States
McKesson & Robbins, Inc. 1938Price, Waterhouse & Co.United States
Yale Express System1965 [18] Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co.United StatesOverstated net worth and failed to indicate net operating loss
Atlantic Acceptance Corporation 1965 [19] Wagman, Fruitman & LandoCanadaCPA conflicts of interest
Continental Vending Machine Corp.1969 [20] Lybrand, Ross Brothers, & MontgomeryUnited StatesCPA partners convicted and fined
National Student Marketing Corporation 1970 [21] Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co.United StatesOverstatement of earnings
Four Seasons Nursing Centers of America1970 [22] Arthur Andersen United StatesOverstatement of earnings; CPA partners indicted
Equity Funding 1973 [23] Wolfson Weiner; Ratoff & LapinUnited StatesCreated fictitious insurance policies
Fund of Funds – Investors Overseas Services 1973 [24] Arthur Andersen CanadaMutual fund that inflated value of assets
Lockheed Corporation 1976 [25] United States
Nugan Hand Bank 1980 [26] Australia
O.P.M. Leasing Services 1981 [27] Fox & CompanyUnited StatesCreated fictitious leases
ZZZZ Best 1986 [28] United States Ponzi scheme run by Barry Minkow
Northguard Acceptance Ltd.1980 to 1982 [29] Ernst & Young Canada
ESM Government Securities 1986 [30] Alexander Grant & CompanyUnited StatesBribery of CPA partner.
Bankers Trust 1988 [31] Arthur Young & CoUnited StatesHid a $80 million mis-pricing of derivatives contributing to profits by cutting bonuses.
Barlow Clowes 1988 [32] United KingdomGilts management service. £110 million missing
Crazy Eddie 1989 [33] United States
MiniScribe 1989 [34] United States
Livent 1989 to 1998 Deloitte & Touche [35] [36] CanadaFraud and forgery
Polly Peck 1990 [37] United Kingdom
Bank of Credit and Commerce International 1991 [38] United Kingdom
Phar-Mor 1992 [39] Coopers & LybrandUnited StatesMail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, and transportation of funds obtained by theft or fraud
Informix Corporation 1996 [40] Ernst & Young [41] United States
Sybase 1997 [42] [43] [44] Ernst & Young [45] United States
Cendant 1998 [46] Ernst & Young United States
Cinar 1998 [47] Ernst & Young CanadaMisuse of corporate funds
Waste Management, Inc. 1999 [48] Arthur Andersen United StatesFinancial misstatements
MicroStrategy 2000 [49] PWC United States Michael Saylor
Unify Corporation 2000 [50] Deloitte & Touche United States
Computer Associates 2000 [51] KPMG United States Sanjay Kumar, Stephen Richards
Lernout & Hauspie 2000[ citation needed ] KPMG BelgiumFictitious transactions in Korea and improper accounting methodologies elsewhere
Xerox 2000 [52] KPMG United StatesFalsifying financial results
One.Tel 2001 [53] Ernst & Young Australia
Enron 2001 [54] Arthur Andersen United States Jeffrey Skilling, Kenneth Lay, Andrew Fastow
Swissair 2001 PricewaterhouseCoopers Switzerland
Adelphia 2002 [55] Deloitte & Touche United States John Rigas
AOL 2002 [52] Ernst & Young United StatesInflated sales
Bristol-Myers Squibb 2002 [52] [56] PricewaterhouseCoopers United StatesInflated revenues
CMS Energy 2002 [52] [57] Arthur Andersen United StatesRound trip trades
Duke Energy 2002 [52] Deloitte & Touche United StatesRound trip trades
Vivendi Universal 2002 [52] Arthur Andersen FranceFinancial reshuffling
Dynegy 2002 [52] Arthur Andersen United StatesRound trip trades
El Paso Corporation 2002 [52] Deloitte & Touche United StatesRound trip trades
Freddie Mac 2002 [58] PricewaterhouseCoopers United StatesUnderstated earnings
Global Crossing 2002 [52] Arthur Andersen Bermuda Network capacity swaps to inflate revenues
Halliburton 2002 [52] Arthur Andersen United StatesImproper booking of cost overruns
Homestore.com 2002 [52] [59] PricewaterhouseCoopers United StatesImproper booking of sales
ImClone Systems 2002 [60] KPMG United States Samuel D. Waksal
Kmart 2002 [52] [61] PricewaterhouseCoopers United StatesMisleading accounting practices
Merck & Co. 2002 [52] PricewaterhouseCoopers United StatesRecorded co-payments that were not collected
Merrill Lynch 2002 [62] Deloitte & Touche United StatesConflict of interest
Mirant 2002 [52] KPMG United StatesOverstated assets and liabilities
Nicor 2002 [52] Arthur Andersen United StatesOverstated assets, understated liabilities
Peregrine Systems 2002 [52] Arthur Andersen United StatesOverstated sales
Qwest Communications 2002 [52] 1999, 2000, 2001 Arthur Andersen 2002 October KPMG United StatesInflated revenues
Reliant Energy 2002 [52] Deloitte & Touche United StatesRound trip trades
Sunbeam 2002 [63] Arthur Andersen United StatesOverstated sales and revenues
Symbol Technologies 2002 [64] [65] United StatesOverstated sales and revenues
Tyco International 2002 [52] PricewaterhouseCoopers BermudaImproper accounting, Dennis Kozlowski
WorldCom 2002 [52] [66] Arthur Andersen United StatesFraudulent expense capitalization, Bernard Ebbers
Royal Ahold 2003 [67] Deloitte & Touche United StatesInflating promotional allowances
Parmalat 2003 [68] [69] Grant Thornton SpAItalyFalsified accounting documents, Calisto Tanzi
HealthSouth Corporation 2003 [70] Ernst & Young United States Richard M. Scrushy
Nortel 2003 [71] Deloitte & Touche CanadaDistributed ill-advised corporate bonuses to top 43 managers
Chiquita Brands International 2004 [72] Ernst & Young United StatesIllegal payments
AIG 2004 [73] PricewaterhouseCoopers United StatesAccounting of structured financial deals
Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC 2008 [74] Friehling & Horowitz United StatesBiggest Ponzi scheme in history [75]
Anglo Irish Bank 2008 [76] Ernst & Young Ireland Anglo Irish Bank hidden loans controversy
Satyam Computer Services 2009 [77] PricewaterhouseCoopers IndiaFalsified accounts
Biovail 2009 [78] CanadaFalse Statements
Taylor, Bean & Whitaker 2009 [79] PricewaterhouseCoopers United StatesFraudulent spending
Monsanto 2009 to 2011 [80] Deloitte United StatesImproper accounting for incentive rebates
Kinross Gold 2010 [81] KPMG CanadaOverstated asset values
Lehman Brothers 2010 [82] Ernst & Young United StatesFailure to disclose Repo 105 misclassified transactions to investors
Amir-Mansour Aria 2011IAO (Audit organization) and other Audit firmsIranBusiness loans without putting any collateral and financial system
Bank Saderat Iran 2011IAO (Audit organization) and other Audit firmsIranFinancial transactions among banks and getting a lot of business loans without putting any collateral
Sino-Forest Corporation 2011 [83] Ernst & Young Canada-ChinaPonzi scheme, falsifying assets
Olympus Corporation 2011 [84] Ernst & Young Japan Tobashi using acquisitions
Autonomy Corporation 2012 [85] Deloitte & Touche United StatesSubsidiary of HP.
Penn West Exploration 2012 to 2014 [86] KPMG CanadaOverstated profits
Pescanova 2013 BDO Spain SpainUnderstated debt, Fraudulent invoices, Falsified accounts
Petrobras 2014 [87] PricewaterhouseCoopers BrazilGovernment bribes, Misappropriation, Money laundering
Tesco2014 [88] PricewaterhouseCoopers UKRevenue recognition
Toshiba 2015 [89] Ernst & Young JapanOverstated profits
Valeant Pharmaceuticals 2015 [90] PricewaterhouseCoopers CanadaOverstated revenues
Alberta Motor Association 2016 [91] [92] CanadaFraudulent invoices
Odebrecht 2016 [93] BrazilGovernment bribes
1Malaysia Development Berhad 2018 Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG [94] Malaysia Fraud, money laundering, abuse of political power, government bribes

Notable outcomes

The Enron scandal turned in to the indictment and criminal conviction of Big Five auditor Arthur Andersen on June 15, 2002. Although the conviction was overturned on May 31, 2005, by the Supreme Court of the United States, the firm ceased performing audits and split into multiple entities. [95] The Enron scandal was defined as being one of the biggest audit failures of all time. The scandal included utilizing loopholes that were found within the GAAP (General Accepted Accounting Principles). For auditing a large-sized company such as Enron, the auditors were criticized for having brief meetings a few times a year that covered large amounts of material. By January 17, 2002, Enron decided to discontinue its business with Arthur Andersen, claiming they had failed in accounting advice and related documents. Arthur Andersen was judged guilty of obstruction of justice for disposing of many emails and documents that were related to auditing Enron. Since the SEC is not allowed to accept audits from convicted felons, the firm was forced to give up its CPA licenses later in 2002, costing over 113,000 employees their jobs. Although the ruling was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, the once-proud firm's image was tarnished beyond repair, and it has not returned as a viable business even on a limited scale.

On July 9, 2002 George W. Bush gave a speech about recent accounting scandals that had been uncovered. In spite of its stern tone, the speech did not focus on establishing new policy, but instead focused on actually enforcing current laws, which include holding CEOs and directors personally responsible for accountancy fraud. [96]

In July 2002, WorldCom filed for bankruptcy protection in what was considered at the time as the largest corporate insolvency ever. [97]

These scandals reignited the debate over the relative merits of US GAAP, which takes a "rules-based" approach to accounting, versus International Accounting Standards and UK GAAP, which takes a "principles-based" approach. [98] [99] The Financial Accounting Standards Board announced that it intends to introduce more principles-based standards. More radical means of accounting reform have been proposed, but so far have very little support. The debate itself, however, overlooks the difficulties of classifying any system of knowledge, including accounting, as rules-based or principles-based. This also led to the establishment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

On a lighter note, the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize in Economics went to the CEOs of those companies involved in the corporate accounting scandals of that year for "...adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world."

In 2003, Nortel made a big contribution to this list of scandals by incorrectly reporting a one cent per share earnings directly after their massive layoff period. They used this money to pay the top 43 managers of the company. The SEC and the Ontario securities commission eventually settled civil action with Nortel. However, a separate civil action will be taken up against top Nortel executives including former CEO Frank A. Dunn, Douglas C. Beatty, Michael J. Gollogly, and MaryAnne E. Pahapill and Hamilton. These proceedings have been postponed pending criminal proceedings in Canada, which opened in Toronto on January 12, 2012. [100] Crown lawyers at this fraud trial of three former Nortel Networks executives say the men defrauded the shareholders of Nortel of more than $5 million. According to the prosecutor this was accomplished by engineering a financial loss in 2002, and a profit in 2003 thereby triggering Return to Profit bonuses of $70 million for top executives. [101] [102] [103] [104] [105] In 2007, Dunn, Beatty, Gollogly, Pahapill, Hamilton, Craig A. Johnson, James B. Kinney, and Kenneth R.W. Taylor were charged with engaging in accounting fraud by "...manipulating reserves to manage Nortel's earnings." [106]

In 2005, after a scandal on insurance and mutual funds the year before, AIG was investigated for accounting fraud. The company already lost over $45 billion worth of market capitalization because of the scandal. Investigations also discovered over a $1 billion worth of errors in accounting transactions. The New York Attorney General's investigation led to a $1.6 billion fine for AIG and criminal charges for some of its executives. [107] CEO Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg was forced to step down and fought fraud charges until 2017, when the 91-year-old reached a $9.9 million settlement. [108] [109] Howard Smith, AIG's chief financial officer, also reached a settlement.

Well before Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme came to light, observers doubted whether his listed accounting firm — an unknown two-person firm in a rural area north of New York City — was competent to service a multibillion-dollar operation, especially since it had only one active accountant, David G. Friehling. [110] Indeed, Friehling's practice was so small that for years, he operated out of his house; he only moved into an office when Madoff customers wanted to know more about who was auditing his accounts. [111] Ultimately, Friehling admitted to simply rubber-stamping at least 18 years' worth of Madoff's filings with the SEC. He also revealed that he continued to audit Madoff even though he had invested a substantial amount of money with him (Accountants are not allowed to audit broker-dealers with whom they're investing). He agreed to forfeit $3.18 million in accounting fees and withdrawals from his account with Madoff. His involvement makes the Madoff scheme the largest accounting fraud in world history. [112]

See also

Related Research Articles

Accounting measurement, processing and communication of financial information about economic entities

Accounting or accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non financial information about economic entities such as businesses and corporations. Accounting, which has been called the "language of business", measures the results of an organization's economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users, including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. The terms "accounting" and "financial reporting" are often used as synonyms.

Nortel Networks Corporation (Nortel), formerly commonly known as Northern Electric and Northern Telecom, was a multinational telecommunications and data networking equipment manufacturer headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. It was founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1895 as the Northern Electric and Manufacturing Company. Until an antitrust settlement in 1949, Northern Electric was owned principally by Bell Canada and the Western Electric Company of the Bell System, producing large volumes of telecommunication equipment based on licensed Western Electric designs.

MCI Inc. since January 6, 2006 subsidiary of Verizon Communications

MCI, Inc. was an American telecommunication corporation, and is currently a subsidiary of Verizon Communications, with its main office in Ashburn, Virginia. The corporation was formed originally as a result of the merger of WorldCom and MCI Communications corporations, and used the name MCI WorldCom, succeeded by WorldCom, before changing its name to the present version on April 12, 2003, as part of the corporation's ending of its bankruptcy status. The company traded on NASDAQ as WCOM (pre-bankruptcy) and MCIP (post-bankruptcy). The corporation was purchased by Verizon Communications with the deal finalizing on January 6, 2006, and is now identified as that company's Verizon Business division with the local residential divisions being integrated slowly into local Verizon subsidiaries.

Creative accounting Euphemism referring to unethical accounting practices

Creative accounting is a euphemism referring to accounting practices that may follow the letter of the rules of standard accounting practices, but deviate from the spirit of those rules with questionable accounting ethics—specifically distorting results in favor of the "preparers", or the firm that hired the accountant. They are characterized by excessive complication and the use of novel ways of characterizing income, assets, or liabilities and the intent to influence readers towards the interpretations desired by the authors. The terms "innovative" or "aggressive" are also sometimes used. Other synonyms include "cooking the books" and "Enronomics", named after the Enron fraud. Creative accounting is oftentimes used in tandem with outright financial fraud, and lines between the two are blurred. Creative accounting practices are known since ancient times and appear world-wide in various forms.

Sarbanes–Oxley Act United States law covering finance and accountability

The Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002, also known as the "Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act" and "Corporate and Auditing Accountability, Responsibility, and Transparency Act" and more commonly called Sarbanes–Oxley or SOX, is a United States federal law that set new or expanded requirements for all U.S. public company boards, management and public accounting firms. A number of provisions of the Act also apply to privately held companies, such as the willful destruction of evidence to impede a federal investigation.

Financial audit

A financial audit is conducted to provide an opinion whether "financial statements" are stated in accordance with specified criteria. Normally, the criteria are international accounting standards, although auditors may conduct audits of financial statements prepared using the cash basis or some other basis of accounting appropriate for the organisation. In providing an opinion whether financial statements are fairly stated in accordance with accounting standards, the auditor gathers evidence to determine whether the statements contain material errors or other misstatements.

JPMorgan Chase American multinational banking and financial services holding company

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is an American multinational investment bank and financial services holding company headquartered in New York City. JPMorgan Chase is ranked by S&P Global as the largest bank in the United States and the sixth largest bank in the world by total assets, with total assets of US$2.765 trillion. It is also the world's most valuable bank by market capitalization. JPMorgan Chase is incorporated in Delaware.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization accounting measure: net earnings, before interest expenses, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are subtracted

A company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization is an accounting measure calculated using a company's earnings, before interest expenses, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are subtracted, as a proxy for a company's current operating profitability.

Securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud, is a deceptive practice in the stock or commodities markets that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses, in violation of securities laws.

Enron scandal Energy company bankruptcy and financial scandal

The Enron scandal, publicized in October 2001, eventually led to the bankruptcy of the Enron Corporation, an American energy company based in Houston, Texas, and the de facto dissolution of Arthur Andersen, which was one of the five largest audit and accountancy partnerships in the world. In addition to being the largest bankruptcy reorganization in American history at that time, Enron was cited as the biggest audit failure.

Bernie Madoff American former businessman, stockbroker, investment advisor, financier and white collar criminal

Bernard Lawrence Madoff is an American former market maker, investment advisor and financier who is currently serving a federal prison sentence for offenses related to a massive Ponzi scheme. He is the former non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, the confessed operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in world history, and the largest financial fraud in U.S. history. Prosecutors estimated the fraud to be worth $64.8 billion based on the amounts in the accounts of Madoff's 4,800 clients as of November 30, 2008.

Harry M. Markopolos is an American former securities industry executive and a forensic accounting and financial fraud investigator.

David G. Friehling is an American accountant who was arrested and charged in March 2009 for his role in the Madoff investment scandal. He subsequently pleaded guilty to rubber-stamping Bernard Madoff's filings with regulators rather than fully reviewing them. His role in covering up Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme makes it the largest accounting fraud in history.

Madoff investment scandal Investment scandal discovered in 2008

The Madoff investment scandal was a major case of stock and securities fraud discovered in late 2008. In December of that year, Bernie Madoff, the former NASDAQ Chairman and founder of the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, admitted that the wealth management arm of his business was an elaborate multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Participants in the Madoff investment scandal

Participants in the Madoff investment scandal included employees of Bernard Madoff's investment firm with specific knowledge of the Ponzi scheme, a three-person accounting firm that assembled his reports, and a network of feeder funds that invested their clients' money with Madoff while collecting significant fees. Madoff avoided most direct financial scrutiny by accepting investments only through these feeder funds, while obtaining false auditing statements for his firm. The liquidation trustee of Madoff's firm has implicated managers of the feeder funds for ignoring signs of Madoff's deception. Although Madoff claimed to have executed the scheme alone, subsequent investigation has shown that he was assisted by a small group of close associates, as well as the feeders' self-interested indifference to the source of his investment returns.

Recovery of funds from the Madoff investment scandal has been underway since the scandal broke in December 2008. That month, recovery trustee Irving Picard received funds from the Bank of New York account where Bernard Madoff held new investments into his Ponzi scheme. Through legal action against Madoff associates, feeder funds and beneficiaries of the scheme, the trustee has recovered $13.294 billion, of which $11.275 billion has been distributed or committed to victims.

Daniel Bonventre is one of five former Madoff employees charged in the Madoff investment scandal.

Timeline of major events for Nortel.

"Tone at the top" is a term that originated in the field of accounting and is used to describe an organization's general ethical climate, as established by its board of directors, audit committee, and senior management. Having good tone at the top is believed by business ethics experts to help prevent fraud and other unethical practices. The very same idea is expressed in negative terms by the old saying "A fish rots from the head down".

Shana Diane Madoff, sometimes referred to as Shana Madoff Skoller Swanson, is an American attorney who is now a yoga teacher.

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Further reading