Accountants Under Fire

What changes are needed to prevent another Enron?


The accounting profession has emerged as one of the biggest victims of the sudden collapse of the once high-flying Enron Corp. The Houston energy-trading company filed for bankruptcy in December after accounting missteps forced it to restate earnings for several years. Enron executives put part of the blame on Arthur Andersen, the big firm that audited Enron's books. Now facing a criminal indictment for shredding documents and suits by Enron employees who lost pension savings, the venerable firm may not survive. Meanwhile, President Bush, Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission want to strengthen auditor independence and improve corporate financial disclosures — but the accounting profession is resisting some of the changes.

Former Enron administrative assistant Deborah G. Perrotta tearfully tells the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee ...

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