Accounting Ethics (and fraud)

Postings by Art Berkowitz on ethics and fraud. Most of them are serious, but sometimes we also need to have a little fun.

My Photo
Location: Orange County, California, United States

Art Berkowitz, C.P.A. is an author, speaker, and consultant from Orange County, California. He writes ethics, fraud, and accounting courses (CPE) for accountants and other financial professionals. Art has also written a weekly online column for The Wall Street Journal and a book on the Enron debacle. To order any of his self-study courses go to

Friday, April 21, 2006

Some Additional Thoughts on ENRON

I don't know how many of you have been following the trial of Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay of Enron infamy. But I have been reading the daily reports from the Wall Street Journal and Houston Chronicle - as well as a lawyer's blog, Enron Trial Legal Commentary. They give an interesting day to day perspective of what has gone on in the trial.

However, the New York Times just published an opinion column with a perspective on the eight days of testimony of Jeffrey Skilling. What I found particularly interesting was a quote from Mark C Zauderer, an attorney who deals in white collar criminal law, "At the end of the day a trial like this is a morality play. It is not just what happened, and who said what to whom, but who is an honest person."

If Mr. Zauderer is correct, I have considerable doubt whether the jury will be able to reach a guilty verdict in this trial. All that Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay need is one juror who recognizes his own human frailties in the two defendants. The way things have been going in this world, the percentage of people in our society who are capable of greed or arrogance is a whole lot higher than one out of twelve. They might also identify with someone who could justify lying for a particular cause (or as Mr. Skilling put it, "Perhaps I loved Enron too much").

You might notice that the words guilt and innocence never enter into the equation; nor does the actual question of whether the actions were indeed moral or ethical. No, it is possible that Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay may receive a pass from a society who seems to have no problem with cheering for their local sports hero who abuses women or enjoys watching strangers make secret deals to vote someone off an island.

After all, it is only a game...and what Enron and other similar companies did in the latest round of corporate scandals was also just a game, unless you happened to be one of the thousands who lost their jobs or savings or had their lights turned off just because someone could.


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

<< Home

Who links to me?