Count ‘Em: 63 CFOs Convicted in Past Five Years

The DoJ, asked for names based on its earlier count, identified 53 former CFOs in all; CFO.com adds another 10 from its files.

The Department of Justice, which has said that at least 53 finance chiefs have been convicted in the five-year life of the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force, has provided CFO.com with a list of 53 people who either pleaded guilty or were found guilty. After recalculating to include other cases, CFO.com has confirmed another 10, bringing the total to 63 ex-CFOs who either pleaded guilty or were convicted by juries since July 9, 2002.

The government’s list excludes the names of some well-known former finance chiefs who wound up in jail, including Enron’s Andrew Fastow, WorldCom’s Scott Sullivan, Tyco International’s Mark Swartz, and Rite-Aid’s Frank Bergonzi. Fastow’s and Sullivan’s cases, for example, were handled by the fraud team of the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is why they were not included on the list, according to the DoJ. Likewise, Swartz was prosecuted by Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. The list provided by the DoJ was assembled by collecting cases from U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country that had tried corporate fraud cases.

The DoJ list actually contains more than 70 names, although research by CFO.com shows that a number of those listed were not officially CFOs of their companies; some were company presidents, CEOs, or COOs. On its list, the government also included James Doyle, the former CFO of Mercury Finance, who died before being charged with a crime. Although prosecutors expected to convict Doyle, who was cooperating with them as part of a plea agreement, his appearance on the list is a reminder that the government lost one of its biggest convictions when the death of Enron’s Kenneth Lay caused his record to be posthumously cleared.

In its July 18 announcement, the DoJ said it counted 214 chief executives, 23 corporate counsels or attorneys, and 128 vice presidents as having been convicted since July 2002, in addition to “at least 53″ CFOs. The government list did include other ex-CFOs who were convicted or pleaded guilty in highly publicized trials, including Adelphia Communications’s Timothy Rigas and four of the five former HealthSouth CFOs: Aaron Beam, Michael Martin, William T. Owens, and Weston L. Smith (it did not include Malcolm McVay, who also was convicted).

Through news reports, court filings, press releases, and CFO.com’s own Website, 53 ex-CFOs on the DoJ list were confirmed as having been convicted of charges that included conspiracy; insider trading; money laundering; racketeering; embezzlement; accessory to fraud; and bank, mail, wire, and securities fraud. CFO.com also confirmed the charges of the 10 other ex-CFOs.

The Justice Department noted the role of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in leading to the five years of enforcement, citing it as one of the tools Congress has given prosecutors to target corporate fraud. However, only three ex-CFOs on its list, Steven Garfinkel of DVI, and Smith and Owens of HealthSouth, were convicted of direct violations of Sarbanes-Oxley. Most cases ended in a plea agreement, with more than 75 percent of defendants pleading guilty to charges brought against them.

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