Computer Associates Ex-Executive Sentenced to Prison

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Sanjay Kumar, the former chief executive of Computer Associates International (now called CA Inc.) has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $8 million for his guilty plea to charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors say that Kumar created “35-day months” in order to book additional revenue after a quarter ended and the books should have been closed. He then engaged in a cover-up scheme meant to silence a witness to the accounting misdeeds. It is believed that the fraud cause the company to misstate revenue by $2.2 billion Continue reading

Richard Hatch of “Survivor” fame gets prison sentence

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The first winner of the popular reality television show “Survivor” was sentenced to 51 months in prison for his conviction on tax evasion charges. Richard Hatch, 45, was convicted in January of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million prize he won from the TV show, as well as other income. He was sentenced in May to 51 months in prison. Hatch was initially housed in a county jail in Massachusetts, and was later moved to a federal prison in Oklahoma. The judge handing down the sentence chastised Hatch for lying repeatedly on the witness stand.

The IRS Is Using Outside Debt Collectors

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Starting in September, the IRS is contracting with outside debt collectors to go after delinquent taxpayers. The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 authorized the IRS to contract with private firms to do this work. The three firms currently under contract to perform these services are The CBE Group Inc., Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, and Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc. Continue reading

Happy Halloween… witch tales

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A court in Munich, Germany has ruled that a witch must refund a fee paid by a client, for whom her “love spell” failed. The client paid about $1,275 for the witch to help win back her boyfriend, who left her in the fall of 2003.

The court ruled that the service offered by the witch was “objectively comletely impossible”. The witch said she never guaranteed success for her client, who carried out the witch’s ritual several times, each under a full moon.

Hacking into ATMs with a few internet searches

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Who would have thought it would be this easy to break into an ATM and run off with all the money?

CNN recetnly reported that a man was able to reprogram an ATM at a gas station, so that it would dispense $20 billions instead of $5 bills. Someone went to work to find out how he did it, and found that an operation manual for that specific type of ATM, a Tranax Mini-Bank 1500 Series, could be found legally in about 15 minutes.

The investigator who found the manual, Dave Goldsmith of Matasano Security, didn’t reveal exactly how he found the manual which had master passwords and security information about the ATM. However, a PDF file containing the same information was found with a simple Google search. The online manual was found freely available on the website of a Canadian reseller of the machines, and details the procedure to reprogram the machine, as well as change passwords.

Guilty pleas in Coca-Cola trade secrets case

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Two of the three people accused of conspiring to steal trade secrets from Coca-Cola and sell them to rival Pepsi pleaded guilty on Monday to one federal charge of conspiracy. The attorney for the third accused conspirator, Joya Williams, says she will not plead guilty.

Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. They will be sentenced on January 29, 2007.

Joya Williams worked as an administrative assistant for Coke’s global brand director, and allegedly had access to samples of new products and confidential information regarding Coke’s trade secrets. Duhaney told a judge that she contacted him about the scheme, and he then contacted Dimson, who was to make a deal worth $1.5 million with Pepsi.

The scheme was exposed when Pepsi officials contacted Coca-Cola about the scam. A search of Duhaney’s home on July 5 turned up Coca-Cola product samples and confidential company documents. The three were indicted on July 11.

MassMutual appeals ruling on firing of CEO Robert O’Connell

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An arbitrator ruled that Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. fired its chief executive officer, Robert J. O’Connell, without cause. MassMutual’s board of directors fired him last year after alleging that he improperly increased the value of a retirement account by tens of millions of dollars.

The arbitration panel ruled that MassMutual didn’t follow the dismissal rules that were in the employment agreement the company had with Mr. O’Connell. The panel further found that Robert O’Connell did not breach the fiduciary duty he owed the company. They ruled that the company owed Mr. O’Connell a lump sum of three times his base salary plus short-term incentive award, plus other benefits. The estimated value of the amount owed to Mr. O’Connell is $40 million to $50 million.

MassMutual is appealing this ruling, saying that it undermines corporate governance policies. The company says that any monetary award that might be paid to Mr. O’Connell will not have a material impact on its financial statements.

Should Internal Audit Report to the CFO?

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Who does your head of internal audit report to? If your company is like many, the chief internal auditor reports to the chief financial officer (CFO). That makes sense to some because they are both a part of the finance function. However, that’s not the best control a company could have.

It’s recommended that the head of internal audit report to the chief executive officer (CEO) and the audit committee.

Why? If the CFO is the boss of the chief internal auditor, how can the auditor be objective about the books and records for which the CFO is responsible? Audit committees, on the other hand, offer the internal auditor the opportunity to report findings objectively. Reporting to the CEO has its advantages as well. Such a structure communicates to the auditors that the audit function is a priority.