Lock ’em up for good
The former chief financial officer and controller of WorldCom surrendered this week to federal authorities. They allegedly hid over $3 billion of expenses, thereby allowing WorldCom to report higher earnings in order to prop up its stock price.
The fraud and conspiracy charges which most likely will be filed against them carry maximum prison sentences of 10 years and five years, respectively. Even if they are convicted on all charges and serve a total of 15 years (which is unlikely), it is not enough.
If these two people are guilty of the crimes for which they will be charged, they did a lifetime of damage to innocent people who made investment decisions in reliance upon their honesty. For many people, the financial damage they have experienced will be a life-altering event.
Many investors are senior citizens who will never recover. I have no doubt that for these poor people, the stress of suffering such a financial catastrophe will shorten their lives. What is the difference between their crimes and the criminal who holds up a convenience store with a gun?
The prison sentences should be severe for those who commit fraud while in a fiduciary capacity in a public corporation. If the result of their treachery results in a lifetime impact for innocent people, the prison sentence should be a lifetime of lockup.
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