The Ruin Of Enron Corporation Accounting Essay

Enron Corporation was considered as one of the most advanced companies during the 1990s. Harmonizing to Michael Frontain in Handbook of Texas Online, Enron was on Fortune ‘s “ Most Advanced ” in the United States naming for several old ages and reached figure seven on the Fortune 500 list in 2000. Enron was created by a amalgamation between Houston Natural Gas and another natural gas company called InterNorth in 1985. Kenneth Lay, who was the former main executive officer of Houston Natural Gas, became the CEO of Enron and in the following twelvemonth, he won the station of president. Enron ‘s headquarter was located in Houston, Texas and it “ operated one of the largest natural gas transmittal webs in America, numbering over 36000 stat mis, in add-on to being the largest seller of natural gas and electricity in the United States. ” ( Frontain )

Enron, from the beginning, focused on traditional gross revenues and natural gas transit. However, during the 1980s, because of the deregulating of energy markets, Enron no longer had the sole rights to its grapevine and the company had a immense debt as a consequence of the amalgamation. In order to maintain the company on its pess, Kenneth Lay had to happen some ways to bring forth net incomes. In 1990, Lay decided to convey his former adviser Jeffery Skilling to work for Enron as an comptroller. Skilling directed the company into new ways of making concern. He developed a construct called the Gas Bank in order to market natural gas to consumers. Basically, Enron bought gas from a web of providers and so sell it to consumers at a fixed monetary value with contracts. Enron besides advanced into deregulated electricity markets in California in 1998, offering price reductions for clients to subscribe up with the company. This brought them 4 billion dollars a twelvemonth from electricity gross revenues. Enron did non merely concentrate on the US market but it besides expanded overseas. In the beginning of 1991, the company built its first power works in England, which became the largest gas-fired cogeneration works in the universe. Enron continued to construct power workss in other industrial and developing states, such as Italy, Argentina, China, India, Brazil, Philippines, Colombia, and others. The grosss generated from these undertakings accounted for about 25 per centum of the entire grosss of the company.

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Besides energy contracts, Enron besides launched an Internet-based trade goods merchandising service called Enron Online in 1999. Most of Enron ‘s income came from trades over Enron Online. Furthermore, Enron besides traded industrial trade goods such as steel and wood fibre, fiscal derived functions and advanced points such as broadcast clip for advertizers, conditions hereafters, and Internet bandwidth capacity. ( NPR )

Enron ‘s growing rate was unbelievable. Its one-year grosss increased from 9 billion dollars in 1995 to about 100 billion dollars in 2000. Enron ‘s stocks rose 55 per centum in 1999 and 87 per centum in 2000. However, by the autumn of 2000, Enron ‘s stock monetary value started to diminish significantly and it was revealed that Enron involved with an accounting fraud. On December 2, 2001, Enron declared bankruptcy. Harmonizing to Cathy Booth Thomas in Time Magazine, the bead of Enron ‘s stock monetary value from 90 dollars per portion in 2000 to less than 1 dollar per portion in 2001 caused investors to lose more than 60 billion dollars within a few yearss.

This is considered as one of the largest bankruptcy in American history at that clip. The dirt has caused about 45 thousand employees to lose their occupations and it has become a symbol of corruptness for the whole Western economic system. This bankruptcy did non merely impact the economic system in the United States but besides many other companies all over the universe. This paper will analyse the causes to the dirt, who is responsible, and what we can larn after this accounting fraud.

2/ The Causes of Enron ‘s bankruptcy

There were different grounds for the company ‘s bankruptcy. In this essay, we will concentrate on some of the chief causes that led to the company ‘s bankruptcy.

2.1. Mark-to-market accounting

In accounting, assets and liabilities are normally shown at their historical costs and they remain the same value since the twenty-four hours of acquisition. The Numberss that are recorded on a company ‘s book do non bespeak the market values. Harmonizing to by and large recognized accounting rules ( GAAP ) , the company needs to enter the value of assets at their costs. However, everything changed in the 1980s. Companies started to follow this method in accounting. Basically, with this method, companies record their assets at the current market informations, non the monetary value they purchased in the yesteryear. In trading liquid fiscal instruments, such as stocks, bonds, and all signifiers of trade goods that are traded on the exchange market, this method will work truly good because it allows companies to find the value of their assets at that point in clip. However, using this method to other concerns, it can be unsafe due to the fact that it creates the chances for companies to pull strings the value of their assets.

By the autumn of 2000, Enron did non do any net incomes and the company was on the border to prostration. Skilling requested permission to alter accounting processs and he “ lobbied the Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC ) to let Enron to utilize mark-to-market accounting. ” ( Reeher ) Despite the possible prostration of Enron, the SEC still approved this accounting method in trading of gas hereafter contracts on January 30, 1992 Malcom S. Salter, who was a professor at Harvard Business School, said that Enron is the first nonfinancial company that was allowed to utilize this method of accounting to account for its long-run contracts. In this instance, when Enron builds, for illustration, a power works, the company will instantly claim the jutting net incomes in the fiscal statement although they have non made anything from that power works. If the company could non do the sum of money that has been projected, alternatively of taking the loss, Enron would merely “ transfer those assets to an off-the-book corporation, where the loss would travel unreported. ” ( “ Investopedia ” ) Enron fundamentally did non hold any inducements to make net incomes for the company and they could merely disregard any loss without aching the company ‘s net income when utilizing this accounting method.

In July 2000, Enron signed a 20-year understanding with Blockbuster Video to present on-demand amusement for people in different topographic points in the United States. After several little graduated table undertakings, Enron estimated the net incomes to be more than 110 million dollars from this trade with Blockbuster. When this sort of amusement did non work excessively good in the US market, Blockbuster decided to draw out the contract with Enron. However, after Blockbuster has pulled out the contract, Enron still continued to acknowledge the hereafter net incomes despite the fact that the trade Enron had with Blockbuster resulted in a loss.

Harmonizing to Investopedia, one of the grounds that Enron was able to cover up its fly-by-night concern for a long clip is that at that clip, Skilling was viing with the top Wall Street houses to enroll the best concern school alumnuss and that helped Enron to derive luxuries and corporate benefits.

2.2. Particular Purpose Entities

Particular Purpose Entities ( SPE ) are legal entities formed to carry through narrow or impermanent aims. SPE are frequently referred as off-balance-sheet agreements and it is frequently used in the 1970s when a figure of companies involved with securitization. SPE is a powerful finance tools and if used decently, it can be good to companies because it can assist to divide them from fiscal hazards. A company normally uses SPE to finance a big undertaking by spliting it into different ends in order to carry on a good specified activity and non set all the fiscal hazards on the company. In the other manus, in some instances, companies can utilize SPE illicitly such as blow uping net incomes or “ embezzlement, money laundering, mischaracterizing grosss and loses, commiting fraud on unwitting fund investors, traveling money offshore for revenue enhancement invasion, imparting financess to terrorist operations, and masking the beginning of money for illegal arm gross revenues. ” ( Tavakoli )

Enron is best known for its maltreatment of SPE in order to pull strings the accounting consequences. The company, at that clip, tried to cover up most of the information about SPE that it used alternatively of unwraping that information to the populace. Harmonizing to GAAP for SPE, Enron would hold full control of the SPE and as a consequence, all the activities were non conducted by Auxiliary Corporation or partnership and hence, the entity would be recorded as a portion of Enron ‘s fiscal statements. Furthermore, it is besides stated in GAAP that outside investors put up at least 3 % of the equity capital and if a GAAP net loss cause the equity to dunk below 3 % , the equity holders need non lend more capital to keep the 3 % capital degree but equity-holders may non retreat their equity involvements such that the equity degree beads below 3 % ( Holtzman ) In many of the Fastow trades, the investors did non set up 3 % because the trades turned out to be irrational.

Enron devalued the liabilities on the balance sheet and overvalued its net incomes. The company claimed that it had blocked the hazard of an unexpected diminution in security values by utilizing SPE. However, shareholders were non cognizant that SPE was really utilizing Enron ‘s stocks to finance for that at the clip and it was hard for shareholders to recognize that security values were diminishing at a important rate. Some of the SPEs that Enron employed were JEDI, Chewco, Whitewing, and LJM. ( “ Wikipedia ” )

2.3. Arthur Andersen and Audit Failures

The house Arthur Andersen was founded in 1913. It used to be one of the “ Large Five ” accounting houses, which provided auditing services for large corporations. The house had two major audit failures a few old ages before the Enron ‘s prostration. In 1996, Andersen ‘s scrutinizing studies of Waste Management was false and it inflated the income by over 1 billion dollars, which led to the merchandising of Waste Management to another company. Another audit failure was in 1997 when Sunbeam used accounting fast ones to make false net incomes and Andersen still signed off the fiscal statements even after a spouse detected them. Arthur Andersen and Enron are the two names that will ever travel together due to the debacle of December 2011, when Enron declared bankruptcy. These two large houses took advantage of non merely the investors but besides the authorities to derive net incomes for themselves.

In the article “ Enron Scandal ” on Wikipedia, it says that Enron hired many Certified Public Accountants ( CPA ) every bit good as comptrollers who had worked on developing accounting regulations with the Financial Accounting Standard Boards ( FASB ) Those people will seek to look for ways to salvage the company every bit much money as they can by taking advantage of the loopholes which can be found in General Accepted Accounting Principles ( GAAP ) .

David Duncan was the 1 who is responsible for the Enron audits. One of the internal memos at Andersen showed that “ there were struggles between the hearers and the audit commission at Enron. ” ( Stinson ) In the memos, there were besides several electronic mails showing concerns about the accounting patterns utilizing at Enron. However, Duncan ignored those concerns. The ground that Duncan overturned those concerns is that Enron tried to do Andersen to run into Enron ‘s net incomes outlooks by leting another accounting house Ernst & A ; Young or PricewaterhouseCoopers to finish some of the accounting undertakings. It is besides proved that Duncan ‘s squad wrote false memos which stated that the accounting patterns used by Enron to conceal debts and blow uping net incomes was approved by professional criterion groups.

The house was besides found guilty in Enron instance because of “ tear uping paperss associating to the failed energy giant Enron. ” ( “ BBC News ” ) Andersen has already lost much of its concern since the last two audit failures and after this finding of fact, Arthur Andersen, an 89-year-old accounting house, was on the brink of bankruptcy following by multimillion dollar cases by Enron investors and shareholders.

3/ Peoples who are responsible for Enron ‘s prostration

One of the first people that we need to speak about is Kenneth Lay, who was the former and Chief Executive Officer at Enron. Harmonizing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission web site, in July 8, 2004, the SEC “ initiated civil charges Kenneth Lay for his function in a wide-ranging strategy to victimize by distorting Enron ‘s publically reported fiscal consequences and doing false and deceptive public representations about Enron ‘s concern public presentation and fiscal status. ” In the autumn of 2000, when Enron ‘s stock monetary value reached to 90 dollars, Lay told investors to travel out and purchase more stocks because stock monetary value would maintain mounting to 130 dollars in the hereafter. However, Lay himself knew that Enron was in problem and stock monetary value would travel down so he started selling his stocks. Ken Lay, as a Chief executive officer of Enron, did non care about the net incomes of the company but all he cared approximately was to do more net incomes for him. He was the lone 1 that knew about the fiscal jobs at Enron but he was seeking to cover that up and claimed deceptive information about Enron ‘s stock monetary value to investors. His selfishness and unethical behaviour has taken off many occupations off from people working at Enron and besides a great sum of money from investors and they have led to Enron ‘s bankruptcy. Lay was convicted on all six counts of confederacy and fraud but he died before sentencing.

The 2nd individual who is responsible for Enron ‘s prostration is the former president of Enron- Jeffrey Skilling. On May 25, 2006, the jury laid out 36 charges against Skilling of “ confederacy, insider trading, doing false statements to hearers, securities fraud. ” ( “ Wikipedia ” ) As a consequence, Skilling was sentenced 24 old ages in prison with a mulct of 45 million dollars.

The 3rd individual who was besides responsible for what happened at Enron is Andrew Fastow. He was the former Chief Financial Officer at Enron. Fastow was the 1 who designed the “ off-balance-sheet ” agreements which helped Enron to conceal the true fiscal state of affairs of the company. Enron ‘s stock monetary value was 90 dollars a portion before the prostration and when the truth eventually came out, the monetary value went down to merely 40 cents a portion. He was found guilty to two counts of confederacy and he “ forfeited about 24 million dollars, and spent more than five old ages in prison for securities fraud. ” ( Meglio ) Fastow, after functioning his sentence in gaol, is get downing to travel to universities to portion his narrative to pupils. He is seeking to learn moralss to pupils at concern schools so that those pupils will non do the same errors as him in the hereafter.

Besides three people mentioned above, there were besides many other persons and organisations who got involved with this dirt and all of them were punished.

4/ Lessons learned from Enron dirt

The first thing that we can larn from the Enron fiasco is that unity should ever be the most of import thing in making concern. Enron used “ off-balance-sheet ” funding in order to blow up the company ‘s net incomes and cut down debts. Arthur Andersen someway overlooked the fact that what Enron did was unethical. Enron, as mentioned above, tried to happen loopholes in GAAP to take advantage of those things and salvage every bit much money as they can. This pattern might be considered as legal but it was non needfully considered ethical. Every dealing within a company must be recorded accurately and no people should seek to take advantage of the regulations to derive net incomes for themselves.

The 2nd lesson that we took from this dirt is that people should hold the bravery to step up and show their concerns about possible issues within the company. In Enron instance, some employees and even some senior executive directors, tried to warn Ken Lay about the accounting issues but they did non make anything to forestall the company ‘s dirt. If in this instance some people had taken some serious actions, non excessively many people would hold been lost their occupations and investors losing all their money.


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