Andersen verdict: guilty

June 15, 2002 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Andersen verdict: guilty
Judge instructs jury: "It's OK if you each think a different person wsa the corrupt one."
How do you say "We are guilty of obstructing justice" in Andersen-speak?
Sorry for posting a CNN link, but they are always first to get a story online.
posted by planetkyoto (17 comments total)
Corporations get to act (legally) like individuals when it suits them. It seems fair enough to treat them as individuals even if that that doesn't suit them.
posted by dws at 10:39 AM on June 15, 2002

Seems like a defacto corporate death penalty, a good thing.
posted by owillis at 11:45 AM on June 15, 2002

Seems like a defacto corporate death penalty, a good thing.

How so? How many people will be instantly unemployed by the collapse of a company that had $4.5 billion is US revenues? What impact is that going to have on the local economies or the marketability of their staffers. Nobody loses here but the little guy, the Andersen partners will still have their cash. It may make a statement, but it's yet more irresponsible governance from the Bush administration.
posted by shagoth at 12:39 PM on June 15, 2002

Shagoth, I'm not sure I follow your reasoning. Those people who will be "instantly unemployed" are mostly white-collar folks with 401Ks and money market accounts who can collect their pennies from unemployment and live off their savings for a bit until they find another job. The support staff have skills that translate into any industry.

What impact is that going to have on the local economies or the marketability of their staffers?

Yeah, we might hafta cancel the charity golf outing. Shame.

And I'm no Bushnik, but I fail to see how this is "more irresponsible governance" on their part.....
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:56 PM on June 15, 2002

Uhhhh, mostly white collar? Nobody sweeps their floors or answers phones or sorts their mail?

And what exactly would you do if you were suddenly unemployed and unemployable since your "former employer" would be a now-defunct criminally convicted company?
posted by ilsa at 1:15 PM on June 15, 2002

Good Riddance. And excusing company crimes just because people will lose their jobs is a tactic which is thankfully dead in the water. (In spite of it's continuation on MeFi)

Next: Go after that Money Honey who suddenly sticks her finger in the corner of her mouth and plays the dumb broad, "Ah did'n know dey wus TRADING on dis, whuy shucks", as soon as the shit flies.
posted by HTuttle at 1:56 PM on June 15, 2002

Nobody sweeps their floors or answers phones or sorts their mail?

It looks like you might have missed this: The support staff have skills that translate into any industry.
posted by gyc at 1:58 PM on June 15, 2002

Judge instructs jury: "It's OK if you each think a different person wsa the corrupt one."

Umm, the jury did unanimously find a single person guilty (Nancy Temple). So the judge's instruction is really irrelevant, except probably as a citation in future cases.

As far the employees go, something tells me many are going to be forced to be looking for a new job sooner or later.

Skallas: About two thirds of Anderson employees have already left and found work elsewhere.

As today's Washington Post said, the indictment itself was a death penalty. The majority of Anderson clients have already left.

"Rival accounting firm Ernst & Young has picked up the majority of the companies that fired Andersen, 196 as of Thursday. Another 174 former Andersen clients hired KPMG LLP, 116 hired PricewaterhouseCoopers and 157 hired Deloitte & Touche. Of the remaining defectors from Andersen, 58 have not selected a new auditor, and the others were spread among the smaller auditing firms."

What is left of Anderson would be busy settling liabilities for the rest of its life cycle. The best course for them would have been to try a merger/buy out before the indictment.
posted by justlooking at 2:04 PM on June 15, 2002

The thing that gets me about this whole thing is that the Administration proudly thumped their chest about how they didn't intervene to prevent the collapse of Enron, somehow proud of the economic carnage. Then they follow it with creation of more economic carnage. It makes no sense unless you're some rich schmuck who thinks that the unemployed Joe Six-pack can't figure out that you're really just worsening the economy for the little guy. But since it's clear based on how I get routinely bashed that most MeFiers are fat cats who feast on the flesh of the little guy. I know way too many skilled folks who can't find work to believe that, of course.

Current government policy is clearly focused on short run political expedience and has nothing to do with an actual plan. Mind you, this isn't pure Bush bashing. I keep waiting for something cohesive and it's not there. Just disjointed pieces of government reacting without planning ahead.
posted by shagoth at 2:51 PM on June 15, 2002

All Anderson had to do was settle. Why they didn't is beyond me.
posted by rdr at 5:04 PM on June 15, 2002

Final results:

1) Two big companies dead , nothing new companies do die a lot, just not as often when they're big ones.

2) Thousands or more people with 401k screwed because they did trust their management too much: diversification isn't an hot show argument, they run other stuff on tv.

3) Thousand of people unemployed: not a problem as long as they're re-hired. Opps, you're too old to be re-hired. Opps you had a 401k with them ? Welcome to homeless inc !

4) Somebody somewhere is counting a lot money. It's now their own, but they basically stole it. No big news, except that this isn't the first time happening. Wonder how much money and entertainment is needed to keep employees happy till the next time.

5)Whole Society cost: thousand of man-hours lost in often useless litigation , tv-show, why did that happen show and hello from my new villa in caraibi show.

1) Some people have learned big companies with big names are as much infested by con artists as little ones.
2) Some more people will think twice before trusting
Wall Street.

Overall balance: You need to scare the HELL out of big omnipotent management. F*uck with my savings and I'll promise you inordinate amount of physical violence, then hire a lawyer to sue me when you'll be in the hospital recovering. Otherwise it's going to happen again and again and again, and you're the next in the scam list.
posted by elpapacito at 5:28 PM on June 15, 2002

I'd like to see some high-level executives being punished in a meaningful way. Start making some waves there, and I'm fairly certain a whole lot of other executives will start flying straight
posted by five fresh fish at 6:31 PM on June 15, 2002 prying their fingernails off with pliers. I know it's cruel and unusual, but it would be so much fun!

Seriously, as someone who believes in capitalism, the actions of these criminals turn my stomach. They cast an undeserved shadow upon the majority of business owners/business people who operate their concerns ethically, the ones who will suffer from the bad publicity generated by the handful who don't play by the rules.
posted by evanizer at 7:48 PM on June 15, 2002

with any company that performs a valuable service like auditing or consulting (as opposed to, say, making cigerettes), it is always preferable to reform them rather than put them out of business. the problem is that it is extremely difficult for the government to effectively reform these huge finance companies because the companies have so much influence over the regulatory agencies. given this problem, it may be that shuting Andersen down is the only way to effectively guard against future Enrons. but its not something to be cheery about--the only people that are truely "punished" are the employees who will lose their jobs and Andersen's stockholders. the fat cats responsible for this whole mess may lose their jobs but what do they care? they've already made their millions.
posted by boltman at 8:32 PM on June 15, 2002

five: You will almost certainly get your wish, as this was only the criminal trial of the corporation. There are future criminal indictments of individuals possible at both firms; further fines; delicensing; and lawsuits up the wazoo, assuming there's anything left.

I do feel bad for the many "innocent" employees, but I don't often hear people at MeFi weep for "innocent" employees -- in fact a recent thread seemed to think that a federal bail-out of the airlines was a really bad idea, employees be damned.

The truth of the matter, for me, is that at some level all the Andersen partners needed to feel this pain, or at least the imminent threat of having all their carefully queued-up ducks shot. The Andersen culture was, at one time, famously ethically unassailable. Clearly, something went wrong. It went wrong to the extent that a few people really crossed the line into criminal territory. But it also went wrong to the extent that the corporate culture did not provide oversight and ethical guidance. Perhaps, one imagines, the other partners and accountants involved all thought it wasn't their problem -- or that the come-uppance would be a mere whack with a federal ruler.

After this verdict, accounting partners everywhere are going to sit awake late tonight and wonder what might be happening in other practices at their firms. Starting Monday, I bet you all the money in my wallet (gas tank & lunch), every one of the Big N firms is going to be starting a process of review and asking everybody to fess the hell up to anything that might expose the firm. They have to start taking this seriously. And I'm sorry to say, to make this stick, somebody had to really hurt.
posted by dhartung at 10:43 PM on June 15, 2002

Why the fuss about unemployment? The total number of corporate clients is not changing (subtract 1 for Enron). The total number of audits/year is not changing. The number of auditors required to do them is not changing. The only change is where the auditor resides; the Andersen auditors will simply go join Ernst, Deloitte, etc. We're not talking long-term unemployment. The industry has been undergoing consolidation and transformation for years anyway.

Besides, investors' lingering mistrust of audits is continuing to hurt the market and effectively slow the recovery: a big negative. Punishing Andersen will help rebuild that trust.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 11:26 PM on June 15, 2002

I hope they lock this Andersen dude up for a real long time.
posted by onegoodmove at 1:05 AM on June 16, 2002

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