"Guilty" of obstructing justice came the verdict in the historic Andersen trial in the aftermath of the Enron bankruptcy. Arthur Andersen's "death sentence" was sealed by a single e-mail: "I suggested deleting some language that might suggest we have concluded the [Oct. 16, 2001 Enron news] release is misleading," Andersen attorney Nancy Temple wrote.1 What mattered to the jurors was that Temple's e-mail recommended altering wording to a file memo Andersen partner David B. Duncan had written. In it, he documented that he told Enron's chief accounting officer, "Andersen believed the company's third-quarter earnings news release was misleading...[and] how such presentations had triggered SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] disciplinary actions at other companies. Enron ignored the advice and issued the news release ... anyway."2 Andersen had a problem and the smoking gun that proved to the jury Andersen set out to alter documents to keep the truth from the investigation.
This information quality (IQ) problem is one form of information fraud altering data to hide the truth from a criminal investigation. Even without conviction, Andersen would probably not have survived, having lost 750 of its 2,311 publicly traded clients by June 17.3,4
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