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When the company stopped the practice at the end of the first quarter of 2001, it fell short of the Wall Street earnings estimate and the share price fell by more than 43% in a single day.
These “order backlogs” can be detailed in quarterly reports so long as they are not in the quarter’s revenue and earnings calculations.
The .3 billion securities fraud case against Computer Associates has been called the last of the big Enron-era cases, involving alleged practices termed “the 35-day month,” “the three-day window” and the “flash period.” Certainly, there are some parallels: Each case involved a multi-billion dollar fraud that required participation by a wide group of top executives and others further down.
But the cases of the Houston energy-trading firm and the Islandia, N. Enron executives engaged in an extraordinarily complex hoax, creating a raft of outside businesses that could be used to conceal the firm’s mammoth debt.
The contracts that were backdated by a few days were real.
Was this really a crime or should it fall under the heading of no-harm, no-foul?
Richardson argues that boards of directors and their compensation committees in particular should be careful not to inadvertently give executives incentives to cook the books.