Revenge of The Bean Counters

No longer frail in the face of fraud, accounting firms are thriving on new laws that give them real clout

There's a joke in the accounting trade that the difference between a wobbly grocery cart and a corporate auditor is that the cart has a mind of its own. Very funny, unless you had invested in MCI (formerly WorldCom), which recently announced that the pretax income it reported for 2000 and 2001 was just a tad off--$74.4 billion less than it had said, after writedowns and adjustments. Outside auditors have signed off on bogus earnings reports and balance sheets at companies from Rite Aid to Xerox. In some cases, auditors dealt with corporate brass intent on concealing thievery; WorldCom's ex-CFO, Scott...

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