Monday, November 30, 2009

Leadership and fraud

This short article in US News on leadership is worth scanning. It talks about the tendency to put leaders in charge of organizations who are high on rhetoric and charisma but low on ethics and integrity. Here is a quote worth considering:
"We go for these effervescent leaders when what's really needed is a dull, focused, plodding [person] building effective groups and organizations,"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fraud in science...

Where there's smoke there's fire...

This from the WSJ: The public has every reason to ask why they felt the need to rig the game if their science is as indisputable as they claim.

And this from Telegraph.uk: Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with a whitewash of what has become the greatest scientific scandal of our age.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More Madoff Accomplices Arrested

Today's WSJ reports:
Two former computer programmers for convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff were arrested and charged Friday with creating computer programs that helped Mr. Madoff hide a massive fraud from regulators for more than 15 years.

Jerome O'Hara and George Perez, who began working as computer programmers at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in the early 1990s, were charged with conspiracy, falsifying books and records of a broker-dealer and falsifying the books and records of an investment advisory.

The article reported that there is evidence that the two computer programmers knew what they were doing was fraudulent and received compensation to keep quiet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fraud Research in the News

Forbes discusses the recent publication of Using Nonfinancial Measures to Assess Fraud Risk, by Joseph Brazel, Keith Jones, and Mark Zimbelman, in Journal of Accounting Research.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What is this guy thinking?!

The more I read about the former auditor for Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, the more questions I have about this guy. The WSJ reported that Mr. Friehling said that he is a victim of Madoff's scheme too. According to the article, Mr. Friehling revealed that "he entrusted his own retirement and his family's investments to Mr. Madoff, saying he had about $500,000 with the firm." I'm starting to think Mr. Friehling knows about as much about auditing as the typical High School student! Doesn't he know that an auditor is forbidden to invest in a company that he audits?! This is basic auditor independence! Something is missing here...but it may just be that Mr. Friehling is missing something...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Another guilty plea

Madoff's auditor, David Friehling, operated out of a small office in suburban New York and ran a three-person auditing firm that would be hard pressed to effectively audit anything but the smallest businesses let alone a huge hedge fund! As such, the auditor should have been a huge red flag to anyone investing with Madoff, not to mention regulators.

Today, the 50 year old auditor decided to plead guilty to "securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and obstructing or impeding the administration of the Internal Revenue laws."

While prosecutors argue that Friehling must have known that Madoff was pulling off the largest Ponzi scheme ever, Friehling is claiming: "
At no time was I ever aware Bernard Madoff was engaged in a Ponzi scheme."

Personally, I believe Friehling had no idea that Bernie was committing fraud. However, that does not excuse him from what might be considered constructive fraud and was surely gross negligence on his part. I believe Friehling was so over his head in trying to perform that audit that he should have never taken the engagement. .

No doubt Bernie paid a handsome fee to his auditor just as he did to his investors. Too bad Bernie was giving away other people's money!