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In the current post-Enron environment, those that are saddened by the demise of soon-to-be defunct accounting firm Andersen are perhaps few and far between. I am one of them.

I used to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers (in E-Business), and my best friend was an auditor way back when at Andersen. He is one of the most honest people I have ever known. At that time Andersen was the gold standard for professional integrity. Today, the vast majority of the thousands of people that work at Andersen are completely honest and ethical. They will all have to find new jobs. Many will go through a period of unemployment, and their resumes will be sullied.

Did the entire firm have to be indicted? Of course not. Specific individuals could have been targeted. Or, the firm would surely have been willing to pay an enormous, billion-dollar fine. Instead, the entire firm was indicted, with the full knowledge that the potential penalty would the destruction of the firm worldwide. From what I have read about the jury deliberations, and entire firm went down the tubes because of a single e-mail. Even if the firm wins on appeal, it is for all practical purposes going out of business.

So what you have is thousands of people out of work. Reduced competition for audit work. And, of course, Enron still in existence, plotting its path out of bankruptcy. What a complete and total waste.
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