1. How serious were Stephen Richards’ actions? Why?
Stephen Richards’s actions were extremely serious; manipulating Computer Associates’ quarter end cutoff to align CA’s reported financial results with market expectations by violating the generally accepted accounting principles and their financial reporting responsibilities. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Richards with other CA executives extended CA’s fiscal quarter, “ instructed and allowed subordinates to negotiate and obtain contracts after quarter end while knowing, or recklessly disregarding the fact that, CA would improperly recognize the revenue from those contracts, and failed to alert CA’s Finance or ...view middle of the document...
(NY) The goal of the 35-day month was to permit CA to report that it met or exceed its projected quarterly revenue and earnings when, in truth, it had not. (DOJ) Referring to the Scheme to Defraud, Richard instructed CA sales managers and salespeople to negotiate and finalize additional license agreements, which were backdated to cover the fact that the agreements had been finalized after the end of the fiscal quarter.
At the end, these actions led to “overly aggressive accounting practices” to boost CA’s reported earnings and the managerial use of discretion to greatly influence reported earnings was not only used by Richards’, but it had become a company-wide practice. As Mark K. Schonfeld, Director of the SEC’s Northeast Regional Office, said about CA’s fraud “Like a team that plays on after the final whistle has blown, Computer Associates kept scoring until it had all points needed to make every quarter look like a win.” (Wharton)
As the result, CA fraudulently recorded and reported in the earlier quarter revenue associated with the backdated agreements. Stephen Richard’s actions are notably serious because he had knowledge of the wrongdoings and he was in a position to report it, but he chose not to. Richards’ action together with other CA’s executives seriously victimized the shareholders as they suffered enormous losses once the practices were revealed. Therefore, “Richard was ordered to pay $29 million in restitution.” (Weidlich)
2. If Computer Associates achieved the same financial results through GAAP flexibility, does your answer to question 1 change?
No, with the flexibility of GAAP the risk of manipulation was that CA could have more likely made reporting mistake that would lead to legal problems and enormous losses. As long as the CA’s executives including Richards had the intention of wrongdoing actions they would cause massive losses to the shareholders of the company and to the SEC. Though such manipulations and fraud resulted CA to payback “$225 million for the purposes of compensating shareholders for losses arising out of the company’s criminal conduct.” (DOJ) Seeing that, the evidence and investigation on Computer Associates shows that the CA didn’t make false transaction and actual transaction and business deal had happened, but the problem of fraud was that CA’s executives were backdating the agreements in order to prematurely recognize revenue from contracts that had not yet been executed by both CA and its customers in violation of GAAP.
Under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), four conditions were required to be met in order for revenue associated with a software license agreement to be recognized: 1- persuasive evidence of an arrangement was required to have existed, 2- delivery of the licensed products was required to have occurred, 3- the license fee was required to have been fixed or determinable, 4- the collectability of the license fee was required to have been probable.
Computer Associate did...