Dell and its accountants

Those of you with an eye for scandal will have noticed the way computer giant Dell settled accounting fraud charges with US regulator the SEC.
In short Dell was receiving large exclusivity payments from chip maker Intel but did not disclose them. Indeed investors were left to believe that the money was all part of normal trading turnover while in fact the payments from 2002 to 2005 were helping Dell meet revenue targets.
Dell paid $100m, without admitting or denying anything, to settle the charges while chief executive and founder Michael Dell paid $4m to settle the charges, without admitting or denying anything. Kevin Rollins, the former CEO,did likewise.
Former CFO James Schneider paid $3m, under the same terms. A former vice president of finance, Nicholas Dunning, and assistant controller controller Leslie Jackson agreed terms too
But here’s the interesting thing – the three accountants were barred from practicing as at an SEC regulated company for five years.
Clearly there seems to be an imbalance. Dell pays up but goes back to being CEO, the accountants pay but also lose their ability to work. Some might wonder what the action against Dell and Rollins was not stiffer.
Strange days indeed in US regulation and an action hardly likely to foster confidence in the regulator.

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