Você está na página 1de 15

Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S

Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15



1


Creative Accounting: A F raudulent Practice Leading to Corporate
Collapses


Subhaj it Ghosh*
University of Calcutta


Abstract

The importance of corporate sector, stock market, and accounting profession are increasing day
by day. The growing importance of corporate sector calls for its efficient working and greater
transparency. But unfortunately the prevalence of creative accounting has become a constraint
in the way of transparency. In spite of the guidelines provided by Companies Act, Department of
Company Affairs (DCA), The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Securities and
Exchange Board of India (SEBI), there have been a number of accounting scandals in India
since 1980s mainly due to creative accounting providing flexibility in accounting system. Enron,
Adelphia, Tyco, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers& most recently Satyam are the examples of
major corporate collapses strengthening the concept of creative accounting. The main object of
this paper is to provide an insight into the consequences of creative accounting leading to most
corporate collapses and as well as to suggest some remedy for detection and prevention of
creative accounting.


















(*Subhajit Ghosh, Lecturer & Research Fellow, University of Calcutta, Kolkata (India)
Email: subhajit_sxc@yahoo.com)

Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

2

I ntroduction and Background

Creative accounting refers to accounting practices that may or may not follow the letter of the
rules of standard accounting practices but certainly deviate from the spirit of those rules. They
are characterized by excessive complication and the use of novel ways of characterizing income,
assets, or liabilities. The terms "innovative" or "aggressive" are also sometimes used. The term
creative accounting as generally understood refers to systematic misrepresentation of the true
income and assets of corporations or other organizations. "Creative accounting" is at the root of a
number of accounting scandals, and many proposals for accounting reform - usually centering on
an updated analysis of capital and factors of production that would correctly reflect how value is
added. Newspaper and television journalists have hypothesized that the stock market downturn
of 2002 was precipitated by reports of accounting irregularities at Enron, Worldcom and other
firms in the United States. The origin of creative accounting scandals, besides their moral and
ethical no-no's, is the monstrous greed and hubris exhibited by their perpetrators. Enron,
Adelphia, Tyco- these are just a few companies rocked by scandals that at their heart were about
money and power.

Prior to two years, there were very little (serious) consequences for companies playing with
numbers. But that's changing (at least in the US) due to the large amount of "misstatements" that
have happened. Besides Enron, Adelphia and Tyco mentioned above, Freddie Mac and most
recently Fannie Mae have both needed to restate earnings in the billions of dollars. Until the
price of an action outweighs the potential gain, individuals and corporations will continue to do
what is perceived to be in their best interest.

So creative accounting is the transformation of accounting figures from what they actually are to
what perpetrators desire by taking advantage of the existing rules and/or ignoring some or all of
them. It involves those techniques which are openly displayed (window dressing) as well as
those which are sophisticated ones (off-balance sheet financing). A firm can intentionally alter
reported financial results, i.e., income statement and statement of cash flows, or reported
financial position, i.e., the balance sheet, in some desired amount and/or some desired direction.
This can be achieved through choice and application of accounting policies or through fraudulent
Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

3

financial reporting. The former is the result of flexibility in accounting principles and the latter is
a willful act of deceit to cheat others so as to make personal gains.
The selection and application of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) is flexible,
leaving enough room for judgment in certain areas. We can consider the example of inventory
valuation which offers a number of accounting policy choice and estimation decisions for the
companies to prepare financial statements. Due to this flexibility the management can be creative
in preparation of financial statements. In most cases the management judgment results in change
of reported financial results from one direction to another which is generally referred to as
'aggressive accounting. But when the line is crossed and the accounting policies being
employed move beyond the boundaries of GAAP, the actions may be termed as fraudulent.
Fraudulent financial reporting carries a more negative stigma and connotes much greater deceit
than what is implied by accounting actions considered only to be aggressive (Mulford and
Comiskey, 2002, p.41). However it is very difficult to identify the point beyond which
aggressive accounting becomes fraudulent. The nature of management action may lead to such
identification. As for example when revenue is recognized fictitiously and not in premature
fashion, it represents a case of fraudulent accounting.
Generally fraud refers to successful practice of deception or artifice with the intention of
cheating or injuring others. It involves 'willIul misrepresentation, the deliberate concealment oI
a material fact for the purpose of inducing another person to do or to retrain from doing
something to his detriment (Kohler, 1972, p.201). Fraud is criminal deception, use of false
representation to gain unjust advantage (The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1976, p.420). Thus, in
Iraudulent accounting, there is a preconceived 'Iraudulent intent to mislead the Iinancial
statements in a material way with some motive. The other way of distinguishing between the two
is that creative accounting may be represented as 'bending the rules while Iraudulent
accounting leads to 'breaking the rules.
With this backdrop an attempt has been made to analyze the consequences of creative
accounting leading to corporate scams and also to look at the probable remedies for its detection
and prevention. The next section provides an insight into collapse of Enron as well as evaluation
aspect of corporate collapses. The third section shows the creative accounting practices in India
from 1996-97 to 2004-05 with special reference to some reputed companies. The fourth section
Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

4

looks at credible accounting as a definite solution to creative accounting. The fifth section deals
with the general detection, protection and prevention aspects of creative accounting and the sixth
section concludes the paper.

Collapse of Enron- Strengthening the Concept of Creative Accounting

Enron has made everyone from politicians to comedians aware of the potentially disastrous
results of creative accounting practices. And though the jury is still out on what exactly caused
the sudden collapse of the seventh largest company in the country, investors are now scrutinizing
financial statements, and companies are scrambling to squash investor doubts by improving
disclosure.

As well, professionals in the field are expressing strong opinions on the debacle. A recent poll
conducted by Business Week and Financial Executives International - a professional association
whose members include CFOs, controllers, and treasurers - revealed that nearly half of those
surveyed believe Enron is not an isolated situation. It is merely the most extreme example of
problematic financial reporting leading to creative accounting. Companies have to lose when
managers play Financial Numbers Game with good reputation and investor confidence.
According to The Financial Numbers Game, creative accounting practices may be employed in
exchange for a variety of expected rewards. These rewards may include a favorable effect on
share prices, lower corporate borrowing costs due to an improved credit rating, incentive
compensation plans for corporate officers and key employees, and/or political gains.
Charles Mulford, co-author of The Financial Numbers Game, says "the accounting model isn't
broken, financial reporting just needs some tweaks." In the meantime, investors must educate
themselves about how to detect creative accounting, and professionals such as accountants and
managers need to know how to prevent it from happening in their firms. According to Mulford,
the most common creative accounting practices include improper revenue recognition and
misreporting expenses. However, Enron's game involved special-purpose entities.

According to Mulford, "Enron conducted much of its business in these entities that they
controlled. They transacted with themselves. That kind of self-dealing allowed them to report
profits when they weren't traditionally making a profit." Though the book was written before
Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

5

and published shortly after Enron's dealings became public, the authors included a special note in
the preface regarding the company's accounting practices, noting that Enron's "investors and
creditors had not fully discounted the risk associated with the firm's trading activities, its off-
balance sheet liabilities, and its related-party transactions." The authors add they believe careful
attention to steps outlined in The Financial Numbers Game "would have provided an early alert
to the possibility of developing problems."

Evaluation of corporate collapses:
Accounting standards are now confusing enough which may lead to few more of these scandals
over the coming years. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), operating earnings, or
the pro- forma earnings are becoming less important day by day for high-tech companies,
especially those who can turn losses into profits by excluding lots of expenses. The boom years
saw a number of companies set up internal venture capital funds to invest in start-ups. Intel
Capital, for example, has investments in more than 550 companies in 20 countries. During the
boom years, a number of companies, Intel among them, benefited handsomely from these funds.
Even smaller companies did well out of the stock market during the boom when they spun off
subsidiaries. RSA Data Security, for example, got a nice boost to its earnings for several years
from selling off portions of its stake in its former subsidiary, Verisign. It's not the company's
fault that online tables showing company data did not distinguish between the one-time proceeds
of those sales and its actual business earnings in calculating the company's price earning ratio.

Business Week blames the dot-com boom. It's
certainly allowing a number of companies to
inflate the speed of their success. Other
questionable practices of the time included
booking barter deals - you carry my ads, I'll
carry yours - as revenues, booking the full sale
price of third-party products instead of just the
business's commissions on them, booking
rebates as marketing expenses, capitalizing
marketing costs, and so on. Capitalizing
Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

6

marketing costs was the issue between the SEC and AOL when AOL restated its earnings for
1995 and 1996 under new rules, the accounting change wiped out all the profits the company had
ever made.

There's also the problem that sometime in the last few years people have shifted from valuations
based on last year's actual earnings and this year's "projected earnings". Related to this is another
common problem involving when revenue is recognized. If an individual gets a contract for work
that will pay $50,000 a year for ten years, he can't claim the whole $500,000 as revenue in the
Iirst year. But some companies do so. One shouldn`t claim revenue when the contract is signed;
but should claim it when it is actually paid. But some companies do the former. Of course
anyone who thinks these things started with the dot-com boom is wholly out of line. The
companies have always tried to get away with as much as they can in making their quarterly
reports look favorable. In early 2000, the SEC was proposing to crack down on such practices.
They are, as recent events have made clear, going to have to do a lot more work.

Creative Accounting in I ndia

Company management may adopt various methods to dress up financial statements to show
improved performance. In respect of profit & loss account, the accounting risk is usually the
overstatement of income or understatement of expenses. For the balance sheet, it may exist in
three areas: the correct valuation oI company`s assets, accounting for all liabilities and over or
understatement of net worth. The effect of creative accounting may defeat the purpose of
presentation oI 'true and Iair Iinancial statements, as required by section 211 oI the Companies
Act. Table 1 contains some examples of Indian companies practicing creative accounting from
1996-97 to 2004-05:







Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

7

Table 1
Summary of cases of creative accounting in I ndia

Company Year Nature of creativity
WIPRO Ltd. 1996-97 1999-2000 Transfer of land to stock-in-trade creating
capital reserve to boost up net worth and
to neutralize the effect on profit on
reduction of land value.
Larsen & Toubro Ltd. 1999-2000 & 2001-02 Income recognition through transfer of
loan liabilities at a lower consideration.
Bombay Dyeing and
Manufacturing
Company
2003-04 & 2004-05 Creating provision for possible loss on
firm purchase contract and subsequent
write-back of such provision thereby
converting operating losses into operating
profit.
Hindustan Zinc Ltd. 2003-04 & 2004-05 Reclassifying investments into tangible
assets to bend the requirement of
valuation of investments.
ONGC Ltd. 2004-05 Capitalization of interest as well as other
intangible assets to show fixed assets
value upward and understating revenue
expenses.
Source: Global Data Services of India Ltd., Accounting and Analysis: The Indian Experience, 2006.


Impacts of creative accounting on financial statements in each of the above cases are as follows:

1. WIPRO Ltd.: In 1994-95, WIPRO Ltd., one of the successful companies in the IT sector,
transferred land of Rs.197 million from fixed assets to current assets, pending its sale. The
asset was transferred at the fair market value of Rs.4500 million and the surplus of Rs.4303
million was transferred to capital reserve improving the net worth per share and current ratio.
In subsequent years (1996-97 to 1999-2K), reduction in the value of land was charged to the
profit & loss account and an equivalent amount was withdrawn from the capital reserve to
offset the impact on profit & loss account. The actual sale of land took place after 5 years
from the date of conversion which means they held the stock for a considerable period. Thus
the requirements of AS 10 and AS 2 have not been followed in spirit.

2. Larsen & Toubro Ltd.: In 1999-2000 & 2001-02, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) assigned some
of its outstanding debt to one of its subsidiaries and reported the difference between the
outstanding loan amount and the transIer value as 'income in its proIit & loss account with
Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

8

a note to accounts. L&T continued to show this amount under 'contingent liability. This is
thus a related party transaction. It can`t conventionally be regarded as 'income and so may
be classified as creative. Moreover, the company remained contingently liable for the
repayment of such loan. Problem may arise as the burden of repayment of loan would fall on
the holding company iI the subsidiary`s Iinancial position is not good. Moreover the holding
company may have paid dividends out of such profit.

3. Bombay Dyeing and Manufacturing Company: In 2003-04, the company had entered into
a firm purchase contract for the import of raw materials (paraxylene). On conversion of this
raw material into finished product (DMT), it was expected that the net realizable value would
be substantially lower than cost, compared with reference to estimated selling price of DMT.
Accordingly, a provision for the loss was made in the accounts. This was reversed in 2004-
05. The reversal in the profit & loss account formed nearly 25% of the reported PAT for
2004-05. The making of provision itself is debatable in view of the fact that production was
yet to be made using those raw materials and creation of such provision was to take care of a
normal loss. Such accounting practice allowed the company to move profits back and it
deferred the purpose of preparing periodical financial statements.

4. Hindustan Zinc Ltd.: Company`s marketable investments represented investment oI
Rs.6193.3 million in mutual funds as at 31
st
March, 2004 and Rs.687.90 million as at 31
st

March 2005. Apart from those marketable securities, the company invested Rs.830.4 million
in shares of Andhra Pradesh Gas Power Corporation Ltd. This investment entitles the
company to draw power in Andhra Pradesh from its Vishakapatnam unit. The investment
was made in the year 2000-01 and the same was disclosed as investment. However, the
company changed the classification of these investments to Intangible Assets from the year
2003. The motive behind such reclassification might be to avoid the requirements for
providing for losses in value of investment as provided in AS 13. The auditors qualified the
accounts for the years 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05 in respect of the investments disclosed
by the company as Intangible Assets.

Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

9

5. ONGC Ltd.: The company capitalized the interest on loan as well as other intangible assets
and then wrote off the same through depreciation over the life of the asset. Since the life of
the fixed asset is generally longer than the duration of the loan, the annual write-off works
out lower than normal interest write-off and hence profits were overstated.

Credible Accounting- A Solution to Creative Accounting

Accounting profession has yielded few sensational news in the recent past. Bankruptcy of high
profile companies like Enron, Merck & Co, Xerox Corp., Adelphia Communication and last but
not least World Com. has created ripple in the corporate world. More interestingly, all these have
happened in USA, considered to be the Mecca of highest professional and transparent
accounting. The aggregate of manipulation in above stated 5 companies is 53 billion US$
(equivalent toRs.260 thousand crores approximately). At one end introduction of Corporate
Governance, mandatory application of well conceived and stringent Accounting Standards one
after another and growing regulatory role of SEBI in India or SEC in USA and at the other end
the colossal accounting fraud, window dressing of accounts under camouflaged wording of audit
report have put the accounting profession on the cross road of creative vs. credible accounting.
Creative accounting is the manipulation of financial numbers, usually within the letter of the law
and accounting standards, but very much against their spirit and certainly not providing the "true
and fair" view of a company that accounts are supposed to. A few examples of creative
accounting practices may be given in the following table:










A typical aim of creative accounting will be to inflate profit figures. Some companies may also
reduce reported profits in good years to smooth results. Assets and liabilities may also be
manipulated, either to remain within limits such as debt covenants, or to hide problems. Typical
Table 2 : Classification of Creative Accounting
Practices
x Recognizing Premature or Fictitious Revenue
x Aggressive Capitalization and Extended Amortization
Policies
x Misreported Assets and Liabilities
x Getting Creative with the Income Statement
x Problems with Cash-flow Reporting
Source: The Financial Numbers Game, John Wiley & Sons 2002
Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

10

creative accounting tricks include off balance sheet financing, over-optimistic revenue
recognition and the use of exaggerated non-recurring items. Acceptance of creative accounting
may at best arrange for a quicker promotion in job or a couple of millions increase in the fees.
Above all reality can be deferred, but it can never be denied. If we inspect minutely, we would
agree and appreciate that the accounting profession is growing and glorifying in passage of time
through perceptible improvement of accounting standards and related regulations, consciousness
and alertness among the intellectuals and investors. For this the recent scams have come to lime
light so soon. No theory of accounting standards or related regulatory mechanism can ensure true
and fair accounts unless the accountants and the management of the company are committed and
sincere on the issue. Further, the management of the company of which accounts are true, fair
and transparent is in a better position to take suitable managerial decision for remedy of past
errors as well as future growth. The parties who are associated with accounts of a company either
directly or indirectly like - accountants, management, investors, banks, financial institutions,
stock exchanges, SEBI etc. can offer a reasonable level of confidence about the fidelity and
fairness of accounts and efficiency of operation that calls for Credible Accounting for which
following analysis is important:

1. Debtors and Inventory:
These two items should always be analyzed with age-wise break-up to indicate their realizable
value. Debtors outstanding for more than 6 months needs microscopic view since generally
speaking the longest credit period allowed in industry is 6 months. Inventory level should be
reviewed with respect to lead time for procurement and manufacturing cycle.
2. Sales vs. Debtors:
A perpetual monitoring is necessary between sales and debtors to find out whether there are any
efforts to push the sales or allowing more liberal credit terms than warranted. One should find
out the 'Debtors Days' or 'Collection Period' which represents the average number oI days` credit
customers takes before paying off their accounts.
3. Growth of Sales vs. Earnings:
There should be some parity in growth rate between sales and earnings which is vital to compare
the top-line growth of an enterprise with that of the industry in which the enterprise operates.
This would indicate whether the enterprise is outperforming its competitors or lagging behind.
4. Return on Capital Employed:
ROCE is expressed as the profit before interest and tax (PBIT) as percentage of total capital
Employed (CE). This ratio offers a first hand clue whether the company is able to generate
adequate return to service its debts and offer suitable return to its shareholders. To have better
understanding, ROCE for last few years of the company as well as that of other
companies in the same industry should be analyzed.
5. Cash Flow Statement:
Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

11

'Cash is King" - is the clich in the modern finance world. The interesting fact is that how much
manipulation or fabrication one may do in accounts, he can not hide position of cash - which is
the ultimate source of survival and growth of any organization. Cash Flow Statement is now a
mandatory statement in all Annual Reports. Of this report, the segment called cash flow from
operating activity is the most important one. Any mis-match in cash generation vis--vis sales
increase or negative cash generation should be the first and foremost area to be scrutinized to see
whether the business is on the right track. It is the cash management which can make a company
survive or bankrupt.
6. Capitalization of Expenses:
All major capital expenditures need to be analyzed to find out whether they really refer to
acquisition of assets having utility over a period of time or just an effort to capitalize revenue
expenditure. The accounts scandal in World Com was improper capitalization of expenditure to
the tune of 3.80 billion US $.
7. Matching Concept:
Both revenue and related expenditure should be booked in the same period. For example, income
from annual maintenance contract and expenses for maintaining such service should relate to
same period.
8. Impact of Contingent Liability:
Contingent liabilities which do not figure in the Balance Sheet are expressed in form of a
footnote. These are based more on perception of the management. Auditors should thoroughly
analyze these cases and express their frank opinions as far as possible. Similarly, investors and
other external agencies should go through the same to have a feeling of extreme scenario in case
of worst eventualities. Honestly speaking, India is at par with the international accounting
community so far as accounting standards and related regulatory mechanism is concerned.
Lastly, where as an accountant should pledge to perform without fear and favour, the corporate
management should ensure sound and impartial internal control system, periodic affirmation of
corporate code of conduct and increased vigilance by audit committee. Last but not least, an
auditor should not hesitate to qualify the accounts, if the company is unable or unwilling to
prepare financial statements, which give a true and fair view.

Detection, Protection & Prevention Aspects of Creative Accounting

Almost every day we`re hearing about how corporations have played fast and loose with
accounting rules to hype their reported earnings that definitely leads to creative accounting.

Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

12



Now let us consider the detection, protection & prevention aspects of creative accounting:

Detection:
There are various ways to detect creative accounting. But most importantly the investors should
be able to answer two questions when reading a statement: one, how the company makes money,
and two, how they are accounting for it. The answers should be verbalized in simple english,
complicated statements should make one cautious.
Protection:
To protect the investors against fraud, Mulford says "diversification for investors is key. But first
and foremost, don't forget why you are investing in the first place -- to make money. You won't
be able to find a perfect fraud in financial statements, which is why you have to diversify."
Prevention:
The companies having fraudulent financial reporting trend may have the following attributes:
weak internal control; no audit committee; a family relationship among directors and/or officers;
assets and revenue less than $100 million; and/or a board of directors dominated by individuals
with significant equity ownership and little experience serving as directors of other companies.
Hence, to prevent creative accounting, Mulford says accountants and managers should divide the
duties of an internal control checklist. Furthermore, an independent audit committee should
always have someone with a strong accounting background and audit experience who deals
directly with outside auditors.
If we go to the root, we will find that quality of earnings is top of mind for many investors these
days. However most investors have not been trained how to scrutinize financial statements.
Fortunately, a new book, 7KH )LQDQFLDO1XPEHUV *DPH by Charles W. Mulford and Eugene
E. Comiskey, tells us how to do it. Mulford and Comiskey are both college professors at the
Georgia Institute oI Technology in Atlanta, but they also do 'real world consulting on Iinancial
statement analysis, so they have their feet on the ground.
The book tells everything that is needed to know to detect when company executives are
resorting to creative accounting practices to meet their numbers. Following concepts must be
taken into account for detection and prevention of creative accounting:
Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

13

1. Nonrecurring Accounting Shenanigans : One such concept involves 'nonrecurring items.
According to Mulford and Comiskey, nonrecurring items are supposed to be income or expenses
that are 'not expected to recur on a regular basis, and the 'term is oIten used interchangeably
with special items.
2. Pro Forma Earnings: The beauty of nonrecurring expenses in the eyes of some corporate
managers is that they don`t have to count them when they tabulate 'pro Iorma earnings. Pro
Iorma originally meant 'as iI and was mainly employed to present the results of recently
merged companies 'as iI they had always been a single company. In recent years, though, some
corporate managers figured out that they could make their earnings look better by emphasizing
pro forma results in their quarterly reports. Unfortunately the analyst community decided that
was a good idea and analysts base their published earnings forecasts on pro forma earnings. So
when we hear that a company beat analysts` Iorecasts by two percents, it means that the
company`s pro Iorma earnings were two percents higher than analysts` Iorecasted pro Iorma
earnings. Since the pro forma calculation doesn't deduct nonrecurring costs to come up with
earnings, the more expenses that can be defined as nonrecurring, the higher the reported
earnings. Waste Management took that concept to the limit when it decided that the $24 million
that it spent for painting trucks and other signage costs were nonrecurring and excluded them
when it calculated its December 2000 quarter pro forma earnings.
3. Spot Habitual Users: Obviously, most firms will from time to time incur costs that are truly
nonrecurring such as costs associated with losing a lawsuit, closing factories, writing off
worthless patents, etc. The trick is to differentiate the companies that persistently come up with
nonrecurring expenses to boost pro forma earnings.
4. Divide by Sales: The raw numbers don`t mean much alone, so a Iirm`s nonrecurring expenses
should be compared to its total sales. Both are shown on the annual income statement. The
nonrecurring expenses can be divided by the sales to compute the result as a percentage. For
instance, the ratio would be 10 percent if a company recorded sales of $1,000 and listed $100 in
nonrecurring charges (100/1000). A single Iiscal year`s data isn`t signiIicant since the object oI
this exercise is to pinpoint firms that consistently rack up big nonrecurring charges. Its better to
compute the ratios for each of the five years, and then to average them. Here are a few sample
five-year average ratios for companies that makes clean accounting, that is, they have a low
incidence of nonrecurring charges: Bed Bath & Beyond 0%, Dell Computer 1%, Home Depot
0%, Intel 1%, and Microsoft 0%.But a company with a ratio of three percent or higher can be
considered as a suspected nonrecurring expense abuser. Here are the ratios for some firms that
persistently record nonrecurring charges: Cisco Systems 7%, Computer Associates 9%, Tyco
International 4%, Waste Management 10%, and Yahoo 13%.
Amazon Example: II we consider Amazon`s annual income statements oI recent past we will
find that the unusual expense/income line, positive numbers are expenses and negative numbers
represent unusual income. For instance, it listed $181.6 million in unusual expenses and $3,122.4
million revenue (sales) Ior Amazon`s December 2001 Iiscal year. The nonrecurring (unusual)
expense to sales ratio for that year is 5.8 percent (181.6 divided by 3122.4). The ratios for each
oI the Iive year`s starting with 2001 and working back to 1997 are: 5.8, 7.3, 0.5, 0.6 and
0%, respectively. The five ratios averaged three percent. Using the five-year average, Amazon
Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

14

just qualiIies as a suspected nonrecurring expense abuser, but the two most recent year`s ratios
signal a trend towards increasing reliance on nonrecurring expenses.
5. Nonrecurring expense ratios: No single number works to deIine a stock`s Iuture perIormance,
and a company may have a legitimate reason for its persistent nonrecurring expenses. So
nonrecurring expense ratios may be considered as another tool to evaluate the risks and rewards
of owning a stock.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Though the economy has been able to overcome the shock caused by these corporate scandals,
regulators have taken some preventive measures like amendment of Companies Act, introduction
of code of corporate governance for listed companies, amendment of the SEBI Act, 1992,
introduction of Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices laws to tighten the
prudential norms for income recognition and asset classification.
It is to be stated that the impact of creative and fraudulent accounting can be reduced by
streamlining the accounting and auditing system and more effective corporate governance. In
India creative and fraudulent accounting can be reduced by:
1. introducing forensic accounting for white collar fraud detection and fraud prevention;
2. reducing the alternative choices of accounting treatment in accounting standards;
3. enhancing the quality of corporate governance;
4. amending Companies Act;
5. enforcing strong regulation, and
6. increasing the effectiveness of audit.
Lastly, the regulatory authorities in India may have to seriously reconsider whether an
Oversight Board, akin to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board in the U.S.,
should also be formed in addition to the existing governmental and institutional oversights.













Research and Practice in Social Sciences Ghosh, S
Vol.6, No.1 (February 2010)1-15

15

References
A.Larry Elliott, Larry Elliott, Richard Joseph Schroth, How Companies Lie: Why Enron Is
Just the Tip of the Iceberg, Random House, 2002, Hardback.
Bhabatosh Banerjee, 'India, Shahrokh M. Saudagaran (ed.), Asian Accounting Handbook: A
Users Guide to the Accounting Environment in 16 Countries, Singapore: Thomson, 2005.
Bhabatosh Banerjee, Corporate Creative Accounting in India: Extent and Consequences,
2008.

Charles W. Mulford and Eugene E. Comiskey, The Financial Numbers Game: Detecting
Creative Accounting Practices, John Wiley & Sons, 2002.

Coopers & Lybrand, International Accounting Summaries, New Jersey: John Wiley &
Sons, inc., 1993.

Dorothy Brady, Creative Accounting, McCombs School of Business, The University of
Texas at Austin, 2007.

Global Data Services of India Ltd., Accounting & Analysis: The Indian Experience,
Professional Version, 2006.

O.P. Jagati, Creative vs. Credible Accounting, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
Journal, March, 2003.
Websites:
http://www.icai.org
http://www.dca.nic.in
http://www.icmr.icfai.org
http://www.catoonstock.com