Unethical Behavior Concerning Accounting Fraud: Enron Relevant Facts Enron was on the of the most successful and innovative companies throughout the 1990s. In October of 2001, Enron admitted that its income had been vastly overstated; and its equity value was actually a couple of billion dollars less than was stated on its income statement (The Fall of Enron, 2016). Enron was forced to declare bankruptcy on December 2, 2001. The primary reasons behind the scandal at Enron was the negligence of Enron’s auditing group Arthur Andersen who helped the company to continually perpetrate the fraud (The Fall of Enron, 2016). The Enron collapse had a huge effect on present accounting regulations and rules. Ethical Issues The main ethical issue with the Enron scandal is that Enron allowed legal loopholes to supersede ethical principles (Bowen & Heath, 2005). Enron used legal principles to justify what they were doing instead of acknowledging that the accounting processes they were using were unethical. Another one of the ethical issues is that Enron faced was that …show more content…
Egoism focuses on what is best for one’s self. The top executives may have followed this ethics system because they made millions of dollars off of the Enron scandal even though they knew what they were doing was wrong. Since they were doing what was best for them, they must have been acting ethically. It could also be argued that utilitarianism was at work in regards to the Enron scandal. Utilitarianism holds that an action is ethical if it does the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. The end justifies the means. By manipulating their statements, Enron was helping all of their employees and shareholders to keep their jobs and money. This justified and made their choice to lie on their statements the ethical decision to
On the surface, the motives behind decisions and events leading to Enron’s downfall appear simple enough: individual and collective greed born in an atmosphere of market euphoria and corporate arrogance. Hardly anyone—the company, its employees, analysts or individual investors—wanted to believe the company was too good to be true. So, for a while, hardly anyone did. Many kept on buying the stock, the corporate mantra and the dream. In the meantime, the company made many high-risk deals, some of which were outside the company’s typical asset risk control process. Many went sour in the early months of 2001 as Enron’s stock price and debt rating imploded because of loss of investor and creditor trust. Methods the company used to disclose its complicated financial dealings were all wrong and downright deceptive. The company’s lack of accuracy in reporting its financial affairs, followed by financial restatements disclosing billions of dollars of omitted liabilities and losses, contributed to its downfall. The whole affair happened under the watchful eye of Arthur Andersen LLP, which kept a whole floor of auditors assigned at Enron year-round.
The Enron Corporation was founded in 1985 out of Houston Texas and was one of the world 's major electricity, natural gas, communications, and pulp and paper companies that employed over 20,000 employees. This paper will address some of the ethical issues that plagued Enron and eventually led to its fall.
The CFO, Andrew Fastow, systematically falsified there earnings by moving company losses off book and only reporting earnings, which led to Enron’s bankruptcy. Any safeguards or mechanisms that were in place to catch unethical behavior were thrown out the window when the corporate culture became a situation where every person was looking out for their own best interests. There were a select few employees that tried to get in front of the unethical accounting practices, but they were pushed aside and silenced. The corporate culture at Enron became a place where if an employee would not make unethical decisions then they would be terminated and the next person that would make those unethical decisions would replace them. Enron executives had no conscience or they would have cared for the people they ended up hurting. At one time, Enron probably was a growing company that had potential to make a difference, but because their lack of social responsibility and their excessive greed the company became known for the negative affects it had on society rather than the potential positive ones it could have had. Enron’s coercive power created fear amongst the employees, which created a corporate culture that drove everyone to make unethical decisions and eventually led to the downfall and bankruptcy of
...ns and the company’s fair-value accounting resulting in restatements of merchant investments based on faulty numbers. Additional violations included Enron’s accounting for stock issued to SPE’s, inadequate disclosure of related party transactions, and conflicts of interest and their cost to stockholders. These violations of GAAP and GAAs standards ultimately lead to the demise of a once mighty company (Benston, The Quality of Corporate Financial Statements and Their Auditors before and after Enron). The importance of consistently keeping up with accounting principles and producing accurate numbers for a company’s are exemplified through Enron’s story. The company faced an unfortunate fate that could have easily been avoided through more efficient and effective management, proper accounting methods, and a higher standard of morals and ethics within the workplace.
Enron was a Houston based energy, commodities and services company. When people hear the name Enron they automatically associate their name with one of the biggest accounting and ethical scandals known to date. The documentary, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” provides an in depth examination of Enron and the Enron scandal. The film does a wonderful job of depicting the downfall of Enron and how the corporate culture and ethics were key to Enron’s fall. As the movie suggests, Enron is “not a story about numbers, it is a story about people.”
Ethical behavior, in a general sense, is a definition of moral behavior in regards to lawfulness, societal standards, and things of that nature. In the business world, ethics commonly refer to acceptable and unacceptable business practices within the workplace, and all other related environments. The acceptance of colleges regardless of ethnicity, gender, and beliefs, as well as truthfulness and honesty in relation to finances within the company are examples of ideal ethical business conducts. Unethical business behavior would include manipulating procedures based on bias or discrimination, engaging in activities that promote political gain, as well as blatant fabrication of monetary factors within the company and “can affect organizational performance and is costly to employers, employees, shareholders, and other organizational stakeholders” (Cox 263). When a corporation practices proper ethics, it is representing not only itself in a positive manner, but its partners, shareholders, and clients as well. On the other hand, when an organization partakes in unethical activities, all parties are negatively affected. The collapse of Enron is a major case of unethical conduct in the corporate world, because the circumstances surrounding the firm’s chaotic plunge where so scandalous that it left “creditors wrangling over Enron's skeletal remains” (Helyar) long after the company had seen its demise. There are numerous instances to be mentioned, including deliberate failure to properly report fiscal losses, insider trading, and overall relentlessness. The inclusive purpose of this paper is to further explore the underlining factors that contributed to the downfall of the once powerful Enron, and how a new way of approaching business ethi...
Enron was the model for rapid growth in the 1990’s but part of the culture and ethics of Enron was disturbing. Falsified documents, cutthroat competitiveness among employees and accounting schemes that hid the truth of the company’s indebtedness were just a few examples of the lack of business ethics within the organization. Perhaps a more virtuous management team could have saved Enron from collapse.
A good organization cannot run solely on legality, but it must embrace the ethical values as well. Enron façade of being a good organization, hid numerous corruptions, which came out in the long run (Bowen & Heath 2005). The organization has a moral to remain loyal to it stakeholders and stockholders since they are the one that keep the organization afloat by investing their time and money. Ethnical behavior is assimilated form the top to the bottom and vice versa. This should never be a one-way street. For instant with Enron, according to (Bowen & Heath, 2005), Full disclosure was made only at the top management level, on a need to know basis, making difficult or near impossible to figure out ethical issues that
The film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room was a great film loaded with examples of unethical behavior with Enron being an unethical corporate culture. The film portrays the rise and fall of Enron, one of the most corrupted corporations this country has seen. Enron had started off as a promising energy company with a vision to do good which quickly turned sour when top executives torn the company down while stealing millions of dollars from people. A reason for the downfall of Enron was the deregulation of electrical power markets which fueled the greed of Enron’s officials. They were the ones that transformed Enron from a traditional energy company into an energy broker.
The Enron Scandal, which unrolled in October 2001, lead to the bankruptcy of the Enron Corporation, an American energy company based in Houston, Texas, and the de facto dissolution of Arthur Andersen, a large audit and accountancy partnership firm.
When put in an ethical situations, people use different reasoning’s’ and perspectives to resolve their problems to their advantage. There was nobody validating what was going on. This brings the ethical conflict of Andy Fastow into play; one of the key problems within Enron. Andy Fastow was the man keeping Enron 's “successful” business appearance. While the company was $30 billion in debt, Fastow manipulated the books to make it look like they were still making profits. Fastow might have not been the one to begin the fraudulent activities, but he did it in order to please his bosses. He created two partnerships called LJM1 and LJM2; with the plan of buying Enron’s poorly performing stock to improve their financial statements. Additionally, Fastow went in front of the board of directors to exempt himself to run the two companies as well as Enron, aka conflict of interest. According to the documentation, Fastow allegedly collected $30 million in management fees while defrauding his own
In the 1990’s after the United States Congress approved legislation that deregulated the sale of natural gas, Enron was able to sell energy at much higher prices and to gain higher revenues. This is when Enron’s engagement in criminal activity is considered to have begun. While most companies’ activities regarding commercial business are regulated and watched over by the government, deregulated companies “are not subject to government mandating and oversight; as a result, the executives of ENRON were able to misrepresent their respective earnings reports and stock activity in a fraudulent manner” (Finance Law) by misrepresenting their earnings therefore falsely inflating the prices of their sto...
Enron did have a code of ethics according to the Ivey Business Journal, “the code stressed the following four key principles: communication, respect, integrity and excellence, and included phrases such as “we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves”, “we do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment” and “we work with customers and prospects openly, honestly and sincerely””.4 I think one way Enron could have improved organizational trust is by following its own code of ethics. I also think Enron could have improved by following proper accounting practices as well as not misleading employees and shareholders on the financial state the company was really in. I also think top executives should have paid better attention to the financial reports, I don’t understand how they could have been so blind as to what was going on as some have claimed. I think it is the responsibility of someone at the top to know what is going on financially, I would think they would have to look at the financials when approving bonuses. It is too late to save Enron, but other corporations can use this as a great case study on what not to do.
There are many lessons a business owner can learn from the Andersen/Enron scandal, the only lesson would not be that honesty is the best policy, but also that a dishonest action made by a few people can affect many. Enron’s insider trading and failure to report accurate earnings and losses paired with Andersen’s failure to properly audit and report the company’s debts and earnings made for one of the biggest scandals that the business world has ever seen. Enron used SPE’s or Special Purpose Entities to mask the large amounts of debt that they had acquired overtime