AccountingWEB Weekly News Wrap-Up - Issue 163
- SEC Charges Former Tyco Officers With Fraud
- AICPA Readies Web-based Competency Assessment Tool
- Judge Refuses Andersen's Request for New Trial
- American Stock Exchange Sets New Reporting Requirements
- PwC Partners Give Green Light to IBM Purchase
- Panel Unveils Plan to Promote Fairness in Executive Pay
- Kmart's CFO Steps up to Accounting Questions
- New Headaches For Enron
- GE's Ex-CEO Gives Up Perks as SEC Opens Inquiry
- Andersen and Indian Trials Show Two Faces of Justice
In these days of never-ending stories of corporate misconduct, it is extremely refreshing to see one corporate icon address the issue head on, and do what he believes is the morally and ethically right thing to do. In an open letter in the Wall Street Journal this week, former GE Chairman Jack Welch - the well respected author, management guru and visionary CEO - addressed the dilemma he was facing when inaccurate details of his post-retirement benefits were being waved around the media. Faced with the choice of dealing with a post-Enron scrutiny of a large retirement package or renegotiating the package leading to a defacto acknowledgement that his retirement benefits were excessive, Mr. Welch followed his gut, and the counsel of many colleagues, and gave back the bulk of his retirement package so there would be no adverse affect on GE shareholders.
"In today's reality, my 1996 employment contract could be misportrayed as an excessive retirement package, rather than what it is -- part of a fair employment and post- employment contract made six years ago," said Mr. Welch in the WSJ letter. But, acknowledging that perception is reality in this environment, Mr. Welch has asked GE to modify his contract, which they have done. I have been a big admirer of Jack Welch for a number of years. His stature as a corporate icon has just been elevated significantly, and other corporate CEOs should take notice.
Michael Platt, CEO
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges against former officers of Tyco International. This "looting case" involves loan abuses, as well as financial reporting violations and lying to auditors.
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U.S. District Court Judge Melinda Harmon, who presided over Andersen's obstruction of justice trial earlier this year, has upheld Andersen's guilty verdict, denying the firm the chance for a new trial.
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The American Stock Exchange has approved changes in reporting and governance requirements for companies listed on the Exchange, as well as other rule changes that provide greater rights for shareholders in these companies.
The partners of the worldwide organization of Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers have given their approval for IBM's purchase of the firm's PwC Consulting unit. The partners voted overwhelmingly in favor of the $3.5 billion acquisition.
The Conference Board's Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprises unveiled a sweeping reform plan to address the types of unfair executive pay practices that have come under increased public scrutiny in recent months.
Bankrupt retailer Kmart explained the impact of alleged accounting irregularities and said employees involved in questionable accounting practices are no longer with the company.
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8. New Headaches For Enron 
FBI agents and federal prosecutors are investigating the possibility that Enron and other companies conducted fraudulent electricity trades from 1999 to 2001 which resulted in the manipulation of power prices in
California, Oregon, and Washington.
In the latest ripple effect of the recent wave of accounting scandals, former GE CEO Jack Welch gave back some perks made public in his recent divorce dispute. A day later, GE got word of an SEC inquiry into the matter.
Despite its aggressive prosecution of Andersen for alleged destruction of records, the Department of Justice switched sides and defended the Interior Department in a case of missing records related to the Indian trust fund.
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