Niedermeyer, and Presha Niedermeyer. They performed surveys using internal auditors of public companies and external auditors from large and small firms. The survey questioned how auditors made ethical decisions, and they also wanted to see how internal auditors answered versus how external auditors answered. The result of the surveys showed that there was no difference in decision- making between internal and external auditors in the aspect of how major the effects unethical decisions on victims would be. The only difference between auditors in this study was how they make decisions on what is right and what is wrong. It appears that auditors that work for the Big Four have a stronger sense to determine what is right or wrong as opposed to the other auditors working in large and small firms. The study suggests that each firm adopts policies and special training to combat these
The WorldCom management had an ethical responsibility to dignify business practices above self-interest. Illegal actions conducted at WorldCom produced short term gains at the expense of long term relationships. Chakraborty, Kurien, Singh, et al. (2004, p. 97) described this practice as "profits at any cost."
Assigned auditors were more than aware of the accounting misrepresentation of financial statements, overstating net income. Still instead of walking away from the client and resign, Andersen in pursuing short-term goals stayed with the company and moreover played by the Giant’s rules. More and more accounting firms at that time started to provide consulting services along with auditing to the same companies which always indicates a conflict of interests. Auditors are the guardians and rules players where consultants are giving advices and showing how to avoid some accounting oversights. Andersen also in order to make good profits stepped on the side of combining two contradicting to each other services. Waste Management had lots of former Arthur Andersen employees which also led to close ties between two companies. That situation undoubtedly led to inability to turn down fraudulent accounting practices Waste Management was exercising at that time for a long period of time.
Without a question the BOD should have placed a high degree of reliance on Andersen, which at the time was one of the most prestigious worldwide accounting firms. The auditors should have known the kind of accounting taking place in Enron. In my opinion, Andersen knew, at least to some extent, the company’s financial condition. However, Enron was already too deep under water that blowing the whistle so late would have created problems for Andersen as well. According to the case, on 02/05/01, Andersen held internal meeting during which it addressed the company’s accounting from and oversight of the LJM partnership. Andersen never discussed these concerns with the Audit and Compliance Committee. Although the BOD has its faults, it should have been able to rely on Andersen’s work.
3) What was the prime motivation behind the decisions of Arthur Andersen’s audit partners of the Enron, WorldCom, Waste Management and Sunbeam UDITS: Cite examples that reveal this motivation?
Between the years 2000 and 2002 there were over a dozen corporate scandals involving unethical corporate governance practices. The allegations ranged from faulty revenue reporting and falsifying financial records, to the shredding and destruction of financial documents (Patsuris, 2002). Most notably, are the cases involving Enron and Arthur Andersen. The allegations of the Enron scandal went public in October 2001. They included, hiding debt and boosting profits to the tune of more than one billion dollars. They were also accused of bribing foreign governments to win contacts and manipulating both the California and Texas power markets (Patsuris, 2002). Following these allegations, Arthur Andersen was investigated for, allegedly,
Andersen’s reputation was so tarnished from the revelations of the conspiracy that no public company would have Arthur Andersen as an auditor. Andersen's practice was disbanded and has now become defunct with only a handful of employees still working for the firm as they continue to wind down the business. In July of 2002, not long after the exposure of the Enron accounting fraud and bankruptcy, WorldCom Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. WorldCom Inc. admitted that the company had fraudulently misclassified over $3.8 billion in payments for line costs as capital expenditures rather than current expenses (Beresford). The company’s executives perpetrated this fraud, grossly overstating revenues by improperly transferring billions of dollars in line cost expenses to asset accounts over a number of years. These transfers reduced WorldCom’s reported line costs and increased pre-tax income by $7 billion overall (Beresford).
Normally at the end of each month, Worldcom would estimate the costs of using “Off-net” facilities and connections. Worldcom would accrue these liability estimates. Line cost accrual estimates were very difficult to estimate with precision, especially for international services.
“Although it was not the internal audit department’s duty, Cooper decided that she and several others in her division would investigate the company’s financials on their own, performing what essentially would be a series of mini audits. She did not mention that task to any of the higher-ups at WorldCom; instead, she and her staff worked long hours, often through the night, as they pored over the books.” (Mead) On one side of things, people could see that Cynthia Cooper acted on two code of ethics principles that internal auditors are expected to apply and to uphold. One being her integrity, which states that “internal auditors establishes
E&Y auditors violated their responsibility to the public and to their profession. The auditing standards that were violated were AU 15 responsibility of the auditor to obtain sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable basis for his opinion, AU section 339 preparation and maintenance of working papers, AU 339.01 Principle record of work contains information and conclusions the auditors have reached concerning significant matters in the working papers, AU 339.08 the auditor is required to “adopt reasonable procedures for safe custody of his working papers and retain them for a period, AU 15 was violated when Trauger requested revisions to the workpapers. AU 339, AU 339.01 and AU 339.08 were violated with the
Ethical issues have greatly transformed in our lives since the great Enron, Xerox and other huge corporations proposed big profits showing earnings of billions of dollars and yet in reality facing bankruptcy. These corporations faced great trouble with the federals and state for manipulating financial statements. But not only corporations can be blamed on this, accounting firms were involved in this as much as the corporations were. With the business stand point, ethics comprises of principles and standards that guide behavior. Investors, traders, customers, and legal system determine whether a specific action is ethical or unethical. Ethical issue is a vast subject, but we will look at the niche
P., & Coulter, M. K., 2012, p. 152), although it seems none of WorldCom’s executive management team seemed to feel this way. Many steps could have been taken to prevent the collapse of the WorldCom empire, but only a few key managers held the power and none were willing to take action. One control that did not exist in WorldCom’s culture was allowing both internal and external auditors access to all necessary documents and statements. Without full disclosure of these items no one could see how many risks the company was taking by making fraudulent entries against their books. Also the external audit team, Arthur Anderson, held WorldCom as one of its best customers which was a major conflict of interest. This relationship lead to many fundamental mistakes from Anderson not keeping pressure on WorldCom and getting all vital information that would prove how poorly the company was being run. Had they been operating transparently, auditors and employees would have seen the accounting deception and could potentially have stopped it prior to the company’s collapse. In addition, by employing multiple auditing firms many of the mistakes being made may have been caught and discontinued from the beginning.
There were many issues in this case but one of the main issues that stood out was the fact that Andersen there was a conflict of interest because Andersen was the auditor and consultant for Enron. There are positive attributes when auditing and consulting at the same time for a client such as building a relationship with the client and promotes business; allows the auditor to become familiar with the clients’ business environment, and reduces the overall cost of the client. However, when a firm audits and consults for their client, the audit/consulting firm works so closely to the client that it makes ethical decisions very difficult to make and the auditors lose objectivity and become partial due to the conflict of interest.
WorldCom acquired Arthur Andersen as the independent external auditing for the company. As WorldCom grew after the merger with MCI, Andersen began to invoice less than they should have. The charges were defended as an opportunity to prolong business with WorldCom. (Kaplan and Kiron, 2007). This is an immediate red flag for a company. Where were the ethical practices of the independent auditor? If the auditor has no ethics, how can one possibly be assured that the company is performing its intended function appropriately? The board of directors should have immediately been informed of Andersen’s practices and made a decision to confront Andersen’s practices and possibly obtain new independent auditors.