Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

A Firm Vindicated; a Profession Enhanced

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

A Firm Vindicated; a Profession Enhanced

Article excerpt

The unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the criminal conviction of Arthur Andersen must represent a bittersweet victory for the approximately 28,000 employees who lost their jobs and, in many cases, their pensions when the government secured this now reversed conviction. In consideration of the stigma this criminal conviction could attach to all Andersen employees and believing that other CPAs, even those working in the private company arena, might likewise be subject to the statute that laid the foundation for the government's case, the AICPA filed a brief, amicus curiae (as a friend of the court), in the Supreme Court. It argued that instructions given to the jury to guide its deliberative process in interpreting the statute at issue were erroneous. The Supreme Court's decision was fully consistent with the arguments in our brief.

At the time of the original indictment, many in our profession expressed concern over what appeared to be a rush to judgment and its potential impact upon Andersen employees and partners. At the same time, the AICPA and leaders in the profession stepped boldly and swiftly to enhance how CPAs conduct audits and can help detect and minimize the risk of fraud. In the dark days surrounding Enron, the profession willingly shone light on its practices and procedures and took action to better protect the public interest.

The AICPA responded to the corporate accounting crises with serious enhancements to how CPAs conduct audits and detect fraud. From enhanced fraud guidance for CPAs through SAS no. 99, to a fraud training CD-ROM for corporate management, to the development of an online Antifraud and Corporate Responsibility Center, to extensive guidance to assist audit committees in effectively performing their responsibilities and addressing the risk of fraud, the AICPA has demonstrated the profession's commitment to its bedrock values of integrity, objectivity and competence. …

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