Enron, once the countries seventh-largest company according to the Fortune 500, is a good example of how greed and the desire for success can transform into unethical behavior. Good ethics in business would be to compete fairly and honestly, to communicate truthfully and to not cause harm to others. These are things that Enron did not seem to display, which led to Enron’s operations file for bankruptcy in 2001. Enron’s scandal has become one of the most talked about forms of unethical business behaviors. The company’s collapse resulted from the disclosure that it had reported false profits, used accounting methods that failed to follow generally accepted procedures. Both internal and external controls failed to detect the financial losses disguised as profits for a number of years. Enron’s managers and executives retired or sold their company stock before its price went down. Enron employees lost their jobs and most of their retirement savings invested in Enron stock. Enron’s dishonesty and misleading business ethics unfolded when a Fortune article made people wonder whether Enron’s stock was overpriced. Enron’s executives were later charged with fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. Other companies, such as Arthur Anderson, Citigroup, and Merrill Lynch, also played roles in Enron’s scandal
Although Enron went bankrupt and disappeared ten years ago, the impacts it has made on the ethical standards never faded. It took Enron 16 years to go from about ten billion dollar assets to more than sixty-five billion dollar assets, and took twenty-four days to go bankrupt. Enron, which once ranked as the seventh-largest company on the Fortune 500 and ranked as the sixth-largest energy company in the world, on December 2, 2001, filed for bankruptcy protection in the biggest case of bankruptcy in the United States up to that point (Jennings, 2009, p. 285). By November 2001, the company’s stock, which once peaked at $90 US, was down to less than $1 US. It was a disaster for the thousands of employees and investors (Skilling v. United States, 2010). Employees lost their jobs and pensions, and investors lost billions of dollars. The Enron scandal is one that left a deep and ugly scar on the face of modern business. In this article, the facts of Enron’s case were reviewed and the major ethical issues involved in Enron’s scandal were analyzed. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. The second part is a brief summary of what has happened in Enron. The third part described the role of Arthur Andersen (AA) in the Enron scandal. In the following parts the culture of Enron, the important people involved in this case, and also the major ethical issues about this scandal were analyzed. At last, the conclusion part discussed what we should do to avoid another Enron . A Brief History of Enron
Since found in 1985 as an interstate pipeline company, Enron had been a power supplier to utilities. Its business began through the merger of Houston Natural Gas and Omaha-based Inter North. In the following 20 years, Enron grew quickly and became the largest energy trader in the world. By the end of the twenty century, Enron had many honorable titles, such as “one of the world’s leading electricity, natural gas, and communications companies”, “the world most admired corporations”, and so on. In the following years, with the increase of competition, Enron decided to use diversification and international investment to keep its market position. Actually, these activities brought Enron an unexpected large amount of losses rather than profits. In 1999, after a foray into fiber optics and the broadband market, which was a wrong decision again, Enron suffered too many substantial losses and began bleeding quickly. Because of those frauds, from 1998 to 2001, the stock price peaked at $90 US. “By December 2000, Enron’s shares [were] selling for $85 each, its employees...
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