Attestation Update – A&A for CPAs

Technical stuff for CPAs providing attestation services

What is your price?

with 5 comments

We know the price Mr. Scott London, former partner of KPMG  is accused of setting for his integrity, honor, and reputation. The entrance price tag was several thousand dollars and added up to under $100,000.

Cumulative amount is allegedly $50K cash plus a watch with claimed FMV of $12K plus some concert tickets for his family, with asserted total around $70K or $90K.

That total allegation isn’t the real measure of his price. The starting point was a few thousand dollars in the first deal. If the story outlined in the criminal indictment is correct, that is the point his integrity was sold.

An old joke about your price

There is an old joke with many variations that goes something like this:

Man to woman in a social setting: “would you sleep with me for a million dollars?”

She indicated she would be willing to do so.

Him: “How about for $20?”

With great indignation, she said “Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?”

Him: “We’ve already established that. Now we are just haggling over price.”

The story is told with a variety of famous men as the inquirer and usually an anonymous woman. Quote Investigator finds the earliest version of the story in print back in 1937 which puts its first appearance well before the various people to whom it is usually attributed.

The point stands.

What is the price of your integrity?

It’s a scary question.

One person tested his price point

At some point in my career as auditor the CEO of one of my clients, a rather cynical fellow, said that he knew the price of his integrity was above a certain cutoff. He insisted that everybody had a price at which they would compromise their integrity, but most people hadn’t been in a situation in which they’d found out the amount.

He indicated he was able to test his price at one point in the past.

There was a situation in which he could have stolen a substantial amount of money and was absolutely certain he knew he could get away without detection and there would be not be any trail. I’m not sure the circumstance, but think we are talking about something like piles of cash sitting on a table with no accountability for the amount.

He walked away from the opportunity. Thus, from his perspective he knows the price of his integrity is higher that the amount of cash involved in that circumstance.

Let’s set aside our knowledge of the fraud triangle, especially the idea that severe pressures could change the price point.

His story has stayed with me for a long time.

So here’s the question for you:

At what entrance price point would you compromise your integrity and risk your entire future?

What’s the price would you set for the first step?

Written by Jim Ulvog

April 27, 2013, 6:42 am at 6:42 am

Posted in Pondering

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5 Responses

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  1. My price point? Save my child’s life.

    Gary Zeune

    April 28, 2013, 16:01 pm at 4:01 pm

  2. Gary, thanks for your comment.

    Let’s assume a person has that as their price point without having thougth about it. If said person has good health insurance, then the price point in dollars is likely to be fairly high, since insurance would cover a lot of costs.

    If said person did not have health insuracne, would that mean their price point expressed in dollars would be relatively low because large dollars will be needed soon after the initial diagnosis?

    Jim Ulvog

    April 28, 2013, 16:45 pm at 4:45 pm

    • London clearly didn’t pass along confidential insider info because he needed the money. So if he didn’t need the money how does his crime fit the triangle of fraud. My guess, his ‘need’ wasn’t monetary, it was psychological. It’s like Jerome Kerviel who had Societie General Bank, 2nd largest, in France. He’d been a back office transaction processor and internal auditor. As a day trader who’s account was supposed to balance to zero every day at the end of trading he had the bank committed to $60 BILLION in long currency trades and the bank didn’t know it. It took 3 days to unwind the positions and the bank lost $7.2 BILLION. Kerviel didn’t do it for the money either. He wanted to show everyone he could be a top notch trader. How did one person almost take down the 2nd largest bank in France? The system checked his account balance, always zero, but not the elements. Watch video news reports at http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jermoe+kerviel&oq=jermoe+kerviel&gs_l=youtube.3…8346.11368.0.11713.14.14.0.0.0.0.197.1468.6j8.14.0…0.0…1ac.1.11.youtube.diWJKZwkGBM.

      Gary Zeune

      April 28, 2013, 17:17 pm at 5:17 pm

      • Gary, I can fit what the public information of Mr. Kerviel into the fraud triangle. That works.

        What is available in public for Mr. London doesn’t make sense. I can’t fit that into the triangle. No visible need for money and the amounts he allegedly received are inconsequential to his income and his probable net worth. I can’t fit anything into the motivation side and I can see some obstacles in the rationalization side.

        Thanks for your thoughts.

        Jim Ulvog

        April 28, 2013, 18:11 pm at 6:11 pm

      • I’ll bet he disclosed the confidential info to help his friend, the jewelry store owner. He “needed” to feel important. Same reason roosters “perform” better when new hens are introduced into the cage. 🙂

        Gary Zeune

        April 29, 2013, 5:52 am at 5:52 am


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