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September 18, 2017

Comments

Randy Green

Hi Jim,

As background, I was an Andersen Partner in September of 2001. You may imagine I have some rather strong opinions on the Government's actions around that time period.

I'll push back a bit on your assertion that the indictment had no real impact on the eventual survival of the Firm. SEC regulations, as I understood them, prevented any Firm under indictment from attesting to the financials of an SEC registrant. Thus, on the day the indictment was unsealed, AA lost every single SEC client. This was an instant death sentence.

Whether AA would have survived the litigation storm from Enron will never be known. AA had very substantial insurance policies in place that would have certainly helped cushion the blow, and might have allowed for an orderly shutdown or restructuring.

The SEC's 'amazement' that the Firm immediately folded after the indictment was simply a lie. They knew - or should have known - the moment that they issued the indictment, it was an automatic Game Over for AA.

Jim Peterson

Randy - Thanks for your comment. Responding - we actually "do know" that Andersen would not have survived the Enron litigation storm, although not the precise timing. While it is true that loss of its portfolio of SEC clients was part of the final fatal blow, that was only a "last straw" impact. That's because the collective financial impact of Enron plus the other impending claims -- WorldCom, Qwest, etc. - would have put the firm into insolvency -- a status not permitted under the licensing rules of the various states -- irrespective of the indictment.
As for the question of insurance - which would have been far out-stripped by that array of claims -- the reduced limits and increased deductibles meant that at the multi-billion dollar claims levels involved, insurance was not an effective "cushion." And in any event, by that time what was viewed as "insurance" had really become a timing device for re-allocating costs to future generations of partners -- a motivation for defections and departures as was in fact occurring and as figures in the calculations of the large-firm "tipping points" that I have done and published now for many years and which have never been disputed.
With thanks - Jim

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  • © 2007-2019 James R Peterson Special thanks: Francine McKenna. Always with love: Kat and Julie. In memory: Bob White, Stuart Kadison