Former Enron CFO To Discuss Business Ethics
Sept. 25, 2017
SHSU Media Contact: Lane Fortenberry
How does the seventh largest corporation in the United States go from being a Wall Street darling to, almost overnight, filing for bankruptcy and ultimately ceasing to exist shortly thereafter? A broken ethical culture.
Andrew Fastow, former CFO of Enron, will address the 2001 collapse of the company and discuss his role and that of Enron’s culture during his presentation, “Rules vs. Principles,” on Oct. 3 at 12:30 p.m. in the Mafrige Auditorium in the Smith-Hutson Building at Sam Houston State University.
It was discovered that Enron’s executives were using accounting practices that falsely inflated revenues, causing the largest bankruptcy of the time and shaking the entire energy industry. Fastow was directly involved in many of the practices that led to the company’s demise.
Joseph Agins, compliance officer at SHSU, believes students going into the business world can greatly benefit from hearing Fastow’s story.
“We must learn from our mistakes and, in my view, students will benefit from understanding how such an epic and historic failure happened,” Agins said. “In this presentation, those in attendance will, quite literally, have the opportunity to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.”
Agins believes Fastow is a perfect candidate to speak on business ethics.
“What ultimately led to, and brought down, Enron was a continuing series of ethical lapses brought on by a culture and tone from the top that was far from ethical,” Agins said. “Andy recognizes this, and spent time in prison for his role, so I think he is well qualified to speak on this topic. I think this is a once in a lifetime learning opportunity for students.”
Fastow will discuss how the complexity of laws and regulations breeds opportunity for problematic decisions.
“Those going into the business world will face many dilemmas and situations throughout their careers that will test their ethical mettle,” Agins said. “Business leaders will be faced with decisions that, while technically legal, may not necessarily be ethical. Fastow will discuss what questions business leaders should ask in order to ensure that their organizations not only follow the rules, but uphold the principles behind them.”
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