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Prior to the fall of Enron and their accountants, Arthur Andersen, there were many different types of safety measures in place to help protect the investors and the public as a whole. These safety measures included Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS), Statements on Auditing Standards (SAS), and all professional ethics. The use of GAAP by accountants is standard protocol. An accountant follows these principles as a matter of daily routine. According to Several accounting texts, GAAP is identified as a “dynamic set of both broad and specific guidelines that companies should follow when measuring and reporting the information in their financial statements.”

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In 2005, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Andersen based on flawed jury instructions.

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THE ruling was swift and unanimous. Few who had followed proceedings in the United States Supreme Court were surprised when, on May 31st, the justices overturned the 2002 conviction of Arthur Andersen. The auditing firm had been found guilty of witness tampering in connection with a purge of documents related to Enron, its most notorious client. There was an air of scepticism during last month's oral arguments.

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Arthur Andersen and Enron - two names that will forever live in infamy because of the events leading up to and including the debacle of December 2001, when Enron filled for bankruptcy. These two giants in the utility and accounting industries, and known throughout the world, took advantage of not only investors, but also the government and public as a whole, just so that those individuals involved could illegally increase their personal wealth. How could the backlash from the actions of the management of these two organizations have a positive influence in the accounting industry as a whole? The fallout from Enron’s bankruptcy and the SEC investigation that followed resulted in many changes to the industry to make standards tougher, penalties harder, and the accounting industry more reliable. At first glance, these “improvements” just seem like they are making more work for the many honest accountants in the industry, who are already doing the right things. However, this thesis will show how these changes actually are positive for the industry. In order to do this safety measures that were in place at the time of the debacle will be shown, the actual events leading up to the downfall of Enron and Arthur Andersen will be discussed, the changes that have occurred since the fall through the present day will be given, the changes that appear to be on the horizon for the accounting industry will be shown, and finally how all of this will impact the accounting industry as a whole in a positive fashion will be made clear.

In this case, corrupt is not appropriate applied to the actions of Andersen.
Arthur Andersen continued to perform bad audits even after a warning from SEC.

Was Arthur Andersen A Mistake? - Forbes

Elstein, Aaron. Ultimate Insult: a ‘Nay’ from Anderson --- Audit Firm Raised Questions on Viability of Some Clients, Which May Outlast the Firm.

(Anderson), based out of Chicago, was well established as one of the big five accounting firms.


All of the positive changes center on revitalizing the public’s ability to trust accountants as well as the companies in which they invest. Once these bonds of trust have been repaired, after being so badly damaged as a result of the Enron/Andersen debacle, the economic world can move forward with confidence and integrity in a new a positive direction for all people involved.

Alexander, Delroy. Anderson Partners to Agree to Restructuring Plan Thursday. . March 27, 2002.

Essays related to Enron-v- Andersen.

These two major audit failures should have put Andersen on their guard against another client failure, however the worst was yet to come. Internal memos at Andersen showed that there were conflicts between the auditors and the audit committee of Enron. Also included in these memos are several e-mails expressing concerns: about accounting practices used by Enron. However, the leading partner on the audit, David B. Duncan, overturned these concerns. Also, there is proof that Duncan’s team wrote memos fraudulently stating that the professional standards group approved of the accounting practices of Enron that hid debts and pumped up earnings (McNamee). However, because of the relationship between audit and non-audit fees, Andersen’s independence was probably flawed (Frankel). During the fallout of Enron’s bankruptcy and Andersen’s role in it, Andersen began to run an ad that Andersen would do what was right. In doing this they were trying to rebuild the consumer confidence in their accounting firm. While Andersen was attempting to pick up the pieces of their business, Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve Chairman, presented a plan for a restructuring of Andersen so that they would have a chance of surviving this incident. Andersen did eventually agree to the restructuring, but it was too late to save the firm as a whole (Alexander). Anderson still exists as a company, although their only reason for doing so is to complete all the litigation against the firm. They are no longer auditing or consulting. Anderson was the major accounting influence in this incident, however they were not the main player.