Dealing with the
Big Five audit cheat
by PAT MURPHY
(yawn!) didnít care. Congress (ho-hum!) was emasculated by campaign
really only one way of dealing with the cancerous Big Five accounting firm
of Arthur Andersen before deceitful audits mislead yet more thousands of
investors into losing their life savings:
lawsuits until Andersenís bank accounts are drained dry, and the
metaphorical stake of bankruptcy is driven into its corporate heart.
American marketplace canít afford the likes of Arthur Andersen. Whatever
professional ethical code Andersen supposedly subscribed to, it rebuked it
long ago in the interest of keeping marginal clients happy and fees
flowing into its coffers, even as its executives knew that investors were
left penniless by their faithless audits.
cheery financial portrait of the equally dishonest energy giant Enron is
no fluke. Wrecked lives and wiped out investments are scattered all over
the country in the wake of Andersen audits, which are more fantasy than
as last week in Arizona, Andersen agreed to pay $217 million to 13,000
investors in the Baptist Foundation of Arizona ó an offshoot of the
Southern Baptist Convention ó who lost some $570 million in what Arizona
Attorney General Janet Napolitano called a Ponzi scheme (using new
investments to pay off old investments). Andersenís Arizona managing
partner was stripped of his license, but presumably can move to another
state to use his special "skills" if Andersen remains in
Andersonís string of incompetent or fraudulent audits have led to other
multi-million dollar lawsuit settlements ó $220 million in a case
involving Waste Management; $110 million in the Sunbeam lawsuit, and $90
million in the wake of financial reports on Colonial Realty.
Andersen has offered a $750 million settlement for investors in Enron who
were misled into investing on the strength of Andersenís cheery report
of Enronís soundness.
So, if that
offer is accepted, Andersen will have paid more than $1 billion (with a
"b") to settle lawsuits from angry victims of its obscene
case, it refused to admit any wrongdoing.
few major corporations have decided to drop Andersen as its auditor.
end is in sight for this predator run amok.
Republican oligarchy in Boise has encouraged a new form of arrogance.
state legislators to drop out of their official obligations, still collect
salary and per diem expenses ĺ and delegate non-elected
"substitutes" to cast votes on legislation.
in-your-face practitioner of this elitist attitude is state Sen. Ric
Branch, from Washington County, just up the road from Ada County and the
missed dozens of sessions, while he claims to be pitching hay for his
cattle. Meanwhile, heís asked a former aide to Republican Congresswoman
Helen Chenoweth-Hage to cast his votes, although sheís not an elected
once this becomes a Republican custom, Idahoís attorney general can go
on an endless fishing trip and designate his wife to write the stateís
of the Supreme Court can go skiing and ask their clerks to don the black
robes and preside over the stateís high court.
surprise is not that Sen. Branch is a goof-off and wants to be elected to
a Legislature he doesnít particularly care to serve.
surprise is that Branchís Republican colleagues find no fault in his
arrogance and slothful behavior, and apparently plan to do nothing about
it ó such as at least withholding his salary, or, ideally, booting him
out of the lawmaking body and appointing a replacement who takes electoral