Accounting Scandals – The 5 Biggest Scandals in Past Decades

The last few decades saw some of the biggest accounting scandals in history. All of them are lead by greed and a few individuals managed to pull off incredibly negative feats that put these companies in a disastrous position. 

When the new CEO was brought to this publicly traded US company he quickly discovered that there was something off with the company. He realized and reported that the company had over $1.7 billion in fake earnings. This was of course a big issue as that was clear fraud of the investors in the company and a huge class-action lawsuit was quickly brought to court and settled. 

  • Enron (2001)

Enron Accounting

Enron was one of the biggest US energy companies. They quickly realized that they don’t have to have real customers and profits if they can just fake everything and get massive amounts of money from their investors. After this was found out their stock price fell by 99% and the company collapsed leaving many without their investment. 

  • Lehman Brothers (2008)

2008 was a rough year. The financial collapse of many banks, companies, and regular people happened all within a few weeks. And the whole thing was caused by a handful of companies. One of them is the world-renowned Lehman Brothers bank. It was discovered that they had over $50 billion in loans which they have hidden from the public. They tried to manipulate the market and it all came crashing down, leading to its bankruptcy and a global economic crisis. 

  • Bernie Madoff (2008)

The economic crisis lead to the unraveling of some other scams that wouldn’t be brought to the light otherways. One of the biggest ones is the incredible Ponzi scheme Madoff tried to pull off. After it was uncovered that Madoff tricked investors and made over $64 billion from them. He and his closes accomplices were all sentenced to jail with Madoff being sentenced to 150 years in prison, where he died in April 2021. 

  • Wirecard (2020)

Accounting Wirecard

The latest one on this list comes from Germany. The Munich-based payment processing and financial solutions company Wirecard was one of the biggest companies of that type in all of Europe. It was supposed to rival industry giants like PayPal and Visa. But it all came to an abrupt end in 2020. 

There were some allegations of accounting malpractices and that quickly turned into a huge problem. But just as things were getting even more serious it all got turned up to 11. Suddenly 1.9 billion euros were missing from the company and the CEO escaped Germany via airplane. All of this culminated in the total devaluation of Wirecard and the CEO of it being a wanted man by Interpol.

Find out more about all of this here:
Wiki, Accounting Degree

Nick Martin
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