More than 140 American firms subject to an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the number increases every day. More than 30 leaders and members of boards of Directors brutally "dismissed". The FBI itself, which drives a team of 260 officers working in priority on this form of white collar crime, since Washington recognizes investigate 55 companies it is still difficult to know if these are the same as those covered by the SEC or different cases.
In any event, one thing is certain: the scandal of "backdating", method is to assign a posteriori (or antedated), stock became national and the effects to date are the party tip of the iceberg. "Just because they occupy these functions, business leaders should not be allowed to build on a horse after the arrival of the race", summarizes James Burrus, the pattern of the FBI team that oversees investigations on this topic.
Traditional sectors also
In the sights of the investigators of the federal police or Constable of the US stock market, the firms technology Silicon Valley (although they represent only about one third of the disputed cases) are more and far only referred.
Forty - eight hours after the public revelation of an investigation by the SEC, Richard Burke, the patron of UnitedHealth, the second largest insurer in health in the United States with more than 45 billion of turnover, had to abandon his position as Chairman of the Board of directors need to give the Director General.
The company may have to reduce its balance of nearly $ 300 million for the recent years and the former Director General himself is threatened with criminal charges. And yet, until last week, it was seen as one of the most effective patterns of his generation, having succeeded in a decade to pay this Minnesota insurance company.
This case is less and less isolated. Even very large companies in traditional sectors, such as Home Depot (DIY) or Cablevision (cable television), subject to further investigations.
Nobody can even tell far will lengthen the list, or even what new heads will fall. In the area of the high technology where several patterns have already lost their position , it appears that no one can be considered to be untouchable.
Not even an icon like Steve Jobs, the investigation that he himself had ordered internally at Apple has shown that he was well aware of these practices, without however, apparently benefited directly. Now the SEC is conducting its own investigation and may issue a different view, the charismatic boss of Apple to be especially paid in shares of his company for the decade he held his position.
It is as if a new "cleansing" was preparing in the business community in the United States, such as that which was from the Enron scandal and resulting in the adoption of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, already intended to morality in the United States corporate governance. "The burden of proof is to reverse," explains James Post, specialist of this subject at the Boston University School of Management. "Now, to keep their positions, corporate leaders will have to demonstrate that they are innocent."