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The WorldCom blame game

It?s easy to assign blame to the CPA firm that audited WorldCom, but the blame needs to be placed with the officers, directors and employees who committed the fraud.

In response to the June 25 News.com article "A $4 billion blunder":

It is easy to assign blame to the CPA firm that audited WorldCom (and others such as Enron, Global Crossing and Qwest), but the blame needs to be placed with the officers, directors and employees who committed the fraud. I'd guess the CPA firm usually is not the one to commit, participate or cover up the fraud.

What is needed is for the SEC and other government agencies to charge the perpetrators so the judicial system can deal with them and hopefully put the crooks behind bars. In addition, these crooks need to be held personally liable and make restitution to the stockholders. If we want the stock market to show signs of life again, the stockholders need to be protected from fraud, exorbitant salaries, insider trading and other grievances.

I am an accountant and have participated in numerous audits of large corporations. Let me assure you that it is impossible to detect fraud and other illegal acts that have been purposely perpetrated, and often with the participation of others, in the short time that the auditors are present during the audit. To complicate the issue, the computer systems are all different and extremely complicated. A "small" change to the software to manipulate the logic, the results of a calculation by changing a formula, and so on, can alter results and cover up the fraud. And it takes many, many years to uncover illegal manipulation of the numbers.

Eugenio J. Silva
Coral Gables, Fla.