the worldcom fraud dissertation



The purpose of this report should be to investigate and discuss the accounting scams that happened at WorldCom in order to recommend improved ways to Berkshire Hathaway’s management to get avoiding investments in companies with fraudulent financial records. Accounting fraudulence is a criminal offenses committed simply by high level employees at an organization to manipulate the organization’s monetary statements and intentionally disguise company performance. The fraudulence is determined without the understanding of owners (shareholders and investors) to advantage the individuals perpetrating or committing the fraud and results in a bad impact on the owners.

This report will give a brief background on WorldCom as well as the telecommunications industry, and then talk about the details in the WorldCom accounting fraud in order to provide relevant advice to Berkshire Hathaway, Incorporation. for mitigating future losses due to purchasing fraudulent corporations. We expect management to become more educated regarding excessive fraud risk investments and thus make better knowledgeable investment decisions. Recommendations to Berkshire Hathaway include bettering current risk assessment procedures and improving investment plans.

WorldCom as well as the Telecommunications Market

WorldCom was the leader with the telecommunications sector during the 1990’s; in 2000, WorldCom was the 25th major company on the globe (Anderson, 2013, p. 48). The telecoms industry is growing exponentially within the last decades which is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). As a result of the 1934 Telecoms Act, the FCC began as persistent agency from the U. T. government and is responsible for managing fair practice among the various communications companies (Economides, june 2006, p. 54). The opportunity to get WorldCom to compete in the long-distance marketing communications industry arose as a result ofthe breakup of AT&T’s monopoly in the 1980’s; at a single point business was 90%. In 1984, AT&T was broken down and opportunity for competition gave surge to companies such as Sprint, MCI, and ultimately WorldCom; the brand new competition led to the complete deregulation of long telecommunications in 1995 (p. 49). By January 1996 to March 2001, the industry grew 36% (Carbone, 2006, p. 27). At present, the market is more complicated with all the current advancements in technology as well as the switch to digital information, so although there is nonetheless regulation in some areas, we have a great deal of solutions in telecoms that stay deregulated (Economides, 2005, s. 54).

WorldCom originated in Clinton, Mississippi being a reseller of long-distance solutions in the early on 1980’s following your deregulation in the telephone sector under the name of Long Length Discount Business (LDDC). Bernie Ebbers was named CEO in 1985 and required LDDC community with the purchase of Advantage Cos. in 1989. In 1995, LDDC started to be known as WorldCom, and started trading under the ticker mark WCOM. In June of 1999, WorldCom shares had been trading by $61. 99 a share. WorldCom acquired over 60 firms in the late 1990’s and handled 50% of U. S. traffic, as well as fifty percent of e-mail worldwide. Their particular largest purchase was of MCI for $37 billion dollars in 97. By the time for the 100 years, growth had significantly decreased due to overexpansion in the industry; however , from 1998 to 2001, WorldCom was your second major long-distance owner in the U. S and had over 20 , 000, 000 customers (O’Reilly, 2005).

The WorldCom Scam

The massive scam conducted by CFO, Scott Sullivan and CEO, Bernie Ebbers was revealed in June twenty-five, 2002. WorldCom increased revenues by transferring money from other reserve accounts; the reserves were financial obligations representing approximated costs expected to be paid out in order to employ equipment handled by outside the house parties. Additionally , Sullivan described staff members to misclassify functioning expenses since long-term investments, inflating assets and net gain at the same time. From the second quarter of 1999 through the first 1 / 4 of 2002, WorldCom fraudulently reduced it is line costs by over$7 billion. In the second quarter in 2001 through the first one fourth of 2002, WorldCom incorrectly capitalized collection expenses as long-term property in the sum of over $2 billion dollars. After all research were deducted, over $11 billion worth of accounting fraud had been discovered (Beresford, Katzenbach, Rogers, 2003, p. 9) (WorldCom, 1999-2002, Monetary Information).

Stand 1 . Quantity of WorldCom Misstated Expenses 1999-2002


Reported Expenses According to WorldCom’s Data

Genuine Expenses In accordance to Secureness and Exchange Commission Big difference (Amount of Improper Charge Recognition)

Improper Expenditure Recognition Percentage


$24, 878

$24, 145


installment payments on your 95%


$26, 059

$22, 513

$3, 546

13. 61%


$25, 785

$22, 545

$3, 240

doze. 57%


$9, 179

$8, 406


8. 42%

*All dollar figures are in millions.

**Expenses incorporate: Line Costs, Selling, General and Management Expenses, and also other. Sources: Beresford, D., Katzenbach, N., & Rogers, Junior., C. W.

(2003) WorldCom, Monetary Information (1999-2002)

Due to the overexpansion of the telecommunication industry, in September 2150, WorldCom was $828 , 000, 000 short of Wall structure Street’s income target. Betty Vinson, Representative of Management Reporting was instructed by management to protect the disadvantage with book accounts for collection costs that were set aside pertaining to estimated potential losses. Jeff Sullivan, the CFO, purchased Vinson and the Director of General Accounting, Buford Yates, to find reasons for the book reduction to conceal the real reason of meeting Wall membrane Street’s targets. Although Yates did not agree, he went along with it as Sullivan said it would be a one-time modification. Both Yates and Vinson considered resigning due to Sullivan’s requests (Anderson, 2013, p. 49).

In April, before Quarter you earnings launch, Sullivan sold out of supplies to cover the $771 million target debt. He made the switch in the reserve decrease method to the misclassify price method of fraudulence. Both Vinson and her co-worker expressed feelings penalized cornered into committing the actual knew to become fraudulent confirming. Vinson informed her workers that she was going to find one more job, however she documented an entrance to transfer $771 , 000, 000 of operating expenses into a capitalized long lasting asset bank account and backdated it to February; the entries were made every one fourth for a yr (Anderson, 2013, p. 50).

In 2002, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was knowledgeable by WorldCom’s internal taxation team of possible unevenness. For the many years movement last years prior to discovery, David Myers (the Controller) and Sanjeev Sethi (the Director of economic Planning), the two continued capitalizing business bills they recognized should have recently been expensed. The Vice President of Internal Examine, Cynthia Cooper, had been providing pressure the men to explain the records during an internal audit of capital expenditures in May 2002. She ultimately notified the audit spouse of KPMG, Farrell Malone, of the issue, as well as the audit committee. As soon as the SEC prompted their analysis, Myers and Sanjeev confessed to the records and Sullivan tried to stretch the rules of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) although explaining the entries towards the audit panel (Beresford, Katzenbach, Rogers, the year 2003, p. 124).

Sullivan recognized he was in trouble when equally their former auditor Arthur Andersen and their new auditor KPMG did not recognize the entries being GAAP. Having been cooperative with law enforcement and was a crucial witness inside the conviction of CEO Bernie Ebbers. To get Sullivan’s cooperation, he received a reduced sentence in your essay of five years in penitentiary; In Come july 1st 2005, Bernie Ebbers received a twenty-five year phrase (Young, Sarcey, Koppel, 2005).

Fraud Risk and the Traditions of WorldCom

One of the special traits from the culture by WorldCom supplied pressures for the fraudulence to occur and for the scam to take place pertaining to so long: Bernie Ebber’s attitude towards producing the figures. It is evident that Ebbers was worried about little else than producing the analysts targets and preventing the organization from showing financial issues. Scott Sullivan, although influenced by Ebbers mindset, was also known simply by employees to pressure that particular information be kept key from auditors and reduced account managers (Beresford, Katzenbach, Rogers, 2003, p. 18).

When WorldCom executives began the fraud, they were capable of rationalize their actions because making up for the business package gone wrong and then continued to rationalize their deceptive reporting. Prior to fraud started out, WorldCom’s unsuccessful bid to get Sprint Marketing communications began a decrease in stock prices and executives started the fraud to prevent the corporation from decreasing (Morton, 2006, p. FP1). WorldCom executives were able to rationalize the fraud in the a long time based on the corporation culture and tone that were created more than previous few years. After the fraud had begun, the business owners were able to justify their actions based on the presence of their earlier fraudulent activities.

The managements overall location in the organization gave all of them the possibilities and specialist to maintain the fraud. WorldCom executives were doing every thing they may to cover up the scams and they were very clear regarding any implications of prying. In September 2001, the Controller, DavidMyers, ordered a pc system protection employee to deny usage of Internal Taxation (Beresford, Katzenbach, Rogers, the year 2003, p. 18). Sullivan, just like Ebbers, created a reputation for intimidating and censoring employees at WorldCom whom were being asked about the fraudulent entries. The tone at the pinnacle at WorldCom and the management’s ability to override internal controls were key factors causing the scam.

Although parting of responsibilities allows for a reduction in fraud risk because it is more unlikely everyone will need to participate, equally Ebbers and Sullivan were easily capable to manipulate managers and other executives to adhere to their particular agenda of fraud. Bad internal regulates allow the chance for management to override or perhaps bypass all of them resulting in a unaggressive attitude of employees beneath. WorldCom performed have an insurance policy in place for workers who felt cornered ethically on the job, although only two complaints were ever registered and both resulted in zero action against anybody. Most employees believed they feared they would shed their task if they ever moved a concern past an acceptable limit with supervision. The lack of inner controls and management’s location of electricity provided the needed options for the fraud to happen at WorldCom (Beresford, Katzenbach, Rogers, the year 2003, p. 18).

In addition to the suppressed attitude of lower level staff, management got the opportunity to avoid internal controls, as well as design and style them to their particular benefit. The moment employees in the Internal Taxation department were asked about the process, some did not even know internal audits were going on. Most of them claimed they conduct mostly operational audits to assess operational performance. Moreover, anybody of who Internal Review reports to was Jeff Sullivan, CFO. Not only was Sullivan intimidating the very department that was responsible for ensuring shareholders that he was undertaking his job, he also was in impose of the kind of internal audit; naturally Sullivan opted to require functional audits as opposed to Cynthia Cooper’s CapEx examine (Beresford, Katzenbach, Rogers, the year 2003, p. 23).

The WorldCom culture helped to foster an environment that was susceptible to fraud. Although there were many and varied reasons why WorldCom’s fraud surely could take place, the existence of all three aspects of the fraudulence triangleprovided WorldCom executives with the ability to commit the deceitful functions. As a result of the executive’s activities, the fraudulence ended up negatively impacting huge groups of persons.

The Effects of Fraudulence

WorldCom’s $11 billion dollars fraud inspired not only the WorldCom management, but also the surrounding community. Investors in WorldCom could recover less than 50 % of their investments in the many years following the scam. Bondholders accounted for $13. several billion in losses and are only expected to recover $5 billion in fact of the pay outs are full (only 37% recovered). WorldCom shareholders are just expected to retrieve 2% of their total estimated deficits. Even though some in the investors are required to get back part of their particular investments, they frequently have to hang on years to get their obligations from settlement disputes (Crawford, 2005).

The community where WorldCom operated endured massive deficits. Ebbers and Sullivan had been both actively involved in their particular surrounding community and Ebbers even educated Sunday university at an area church. Their very own presence and known donations to the community led to unease about the foundation of via shawls by hoda received (Morton, 2005, l. FP1). Additionally , the scam led to loosing tens of thousands of jobs for employees of the company, impacting the families of all persons (Hevesi, 2005). The state of Ok suffered a $64 , 000, 000 loss in pension funds that would conclude negatively affecting individuals throughout the state (Mecoy, 2003). Scams have the ability to develop significant unfavorable impacts on countless persons and groups.

Although there had been many adverse impacts in the WorldCom scams, the scam had a lot of overwhelming great impacts in investing in the future by assisting to form two provisions in the Sarbanes-Oxley Take action against activities similar to WorldCom. First, WorldCom executives were large stockholders in the company and Sarbanes-Oxley limits the percentage of stocks and shares that management are allowed to maintain. Additionally , Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley dealt with the weak points that been with us in WorldCom’s internal handles and requires anassessment of a company’s internal controls to be performed by a auditor. Sarbanes-Oxley regulations would have prevented the best ownership of shares simply by WorldCom executives and fixed the inadequate internal control environment for WorldCom (Norris, 2005, l. 1). The existence of fraudulent businesses should inspire investment firms should conduct more extensive due diligence practices to protect themselves from buying organizations with possible fraudulent activities.


Berkshire Hathaway needs to have successful investment activities in order to stay successful. Investment successfully requires investing in organizations that are able to give us with a come back on the investments and therefore are generating income from honest business techniques. WorldCom’s business environment and culture fostered unethical business practices and led to the continuation of the accounting scams for some years. Ahead of accepting a brand new investee, Berkshire Hathaway ought to apply the following practices to assess the ethical reliability of any company and avoid investing in deceptive organizations with environments similar to WorldCom.

First, Berkshire Hathaway should check out a potential investee’s auditor to determine if the auditor has enough qualifications and has a standing for subsequent auditing types of procedures for executing the examine. Arthur Anderson was the auditor of WorldCom during the time of the fraud and the lack of analysis while executing the examine led to the auditors looking over the fraud (Beresford, Katzenbach, Rogers, 2003, p. 229). Although it is not possible to determine the level of an review by looking in the auditing organization, Berkshire Hathaway should try to ensure a large prospective investee companies are audited by a large firm with a good reputation. If an investee is usually audited by a small auditing company that may not have the experience or resources to perform the audit, it might be a sign which the organization provides hired a great under-qualified auditor to have the fraudulence go undiscovered.

Second, significant accounting ripoffs are often the reason for top administration of acorporation, making it crucial to determine the management’s assistance to work with Berkshire Hathaway during the risk analysis. During WorldCom’s audit, the management had not been cooperative with all the auditors and sometimes maintaining control over documentation that Anderson needed to complete all their audit. It had been also noticeable that WorldCom management was altering paperwork to cover up information from the auditors (Beresford, Katzenbach, Rogers, 2003, g. 24). Berkshire Hathaway is going to take note on interactions with investee management to ensure that the management is not interfering with the risk assessment process. An investee’s management can be susceptible to perform fraudulent actions if that they avoid any kind of interview queries or usually provide expected information.

Following assessing management’s cooperation, Berkshire Hathaway ought to interview investee’s employees about the structure in the organization and task abordnung. It is important to ascertain if the business has proper segregation of duties to get activities that may affect the economic representation with the organization. Because was the case in WorldCom, the CEO and CFO both got the ability to conduct all amounts of activities, sidestep any existing controls, and their transactions without review by yet another individual. Segregation of duties ensures that just one individual does not handle each of the parts of the accounting and disbursement system and decreasing the possibility of bogus reporting taking place (Wells, june 2006, p. 82). The failing to segregate duties, build a system of controls, and maintain solid internal controls could create a setting vulnerable to fraudulence.

Groupthink is a mentality amongst individuals where members of the group carry out whatever actions is asked of which without asking or other unethical activities. Berkshire Hathaway should evaluate the mentalities of a few specific workers in prospective investee companies for groupthink characteristics of becoming unwilling to speak up against the group or exhibiting a high amount of commitment to the firm. When groupthink is present within a business environment, the characteristics result in a business environment that not simply environment fraud, but also maintains that (Scharff, 2005, p. 109). Berkshire Hathaway should ensure that groupthink can be notpresent for investee companies before making a great investment decision.

Setup of these recommendations could be frustrating and expensive to Berkshire Hathaway. The additional schooling and planning that would be required to perform these kinds of additional risk assessments could lead to a higher cost associated with purchasing new businesses to invest. The reduced risk of loss coming from investing in a think fraud company will outweigh the initial rendering costs associated with the additional procedures. These types of increased risk assessments can significantly decrease the change of Berkshire Hathaway recovering just 37% of their investments after the discovery of the fraud. Conclusion

The WorldCom accounting scams case is usually one example of the type of scam that can come about at an organization and the result that the fraudulence has on the corporation, employees, and investors. Berkshire Hathaway accomplishment is dependent within the ability to generate profitable purchase decisions with honest companies by incorporating hostile due diligence procedures. Incorporating research practices including analyzing auditor qualifications, watching investee’s cooperation, examining investee internal handles and job segregation, and monitoring to get groupthink will assist Berkshire Hathaway to avoid purchasing suspect companies. These types of procedures will create an effective system to assist protect Berkshire Hathaway coming from fraudulent agencies. Berkshire Hathaway’s management should investigate the expenses and benefits associated with employing the elevated risk examination processes to determine if they might be successfully integrated into firm procedures.


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