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Common grounds of accounting scandals reflected on Wikipedia

Cenap Ilter (California State University Stanislaus, Modesto, California, USA)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore the type of accounting scandals reported in Wikipedia which have occurred in different countries on different continents. It also explores the frequency and the dollar amount of the type of accounting scams that have been committed by the companies.


The paper analyses each company‘’s committed accounting scandal(s). It then classifies the companies on a country, type of scandal and industry basis. It further analyses the distribution of accounting scandals and explains the major ones in its category.


The paper concludes that within the confines of the information reported in Wikipedia, the majority of accounting scandals have occurred in USA both in number of scams and in USD amount. The most frequent type of accounting scam is overstatement of assets and understatement of liabilities including roundtrip sales. Another inference from the paper is that the accounting scams can occur anywhere at any amount. It is not a country-specific issue.

Practical implications

Auditors, accounting and auditing instructors and accountants talk about accounting scandals. Auditors, in particular, are required to issue audit reports that are free of material errors either deliberately or innocently made. This paper sheds light onto the issue, as it shows what major type of accounting scandals have been committed in the literature, as they had devastating repercussions on the shareholders.

Social implications

Resources are scarce. Public’s savings must be sourced to the companies that produce the value added to the society. Misrepresentation of financial statements is an issue which distorts this relationship. The paper, by showing the type and amount of scandals, is opening up the issue to public that people be aware of what type of company they are investing in and what potential risks they are undertaking that may be leading them to be more selective in their investments.


The paper covers the original stories that have occurred throughout the world since 1970s. The names of the companies are original and the amounts of scams have either been collected as USD from the story itself or converted to USD at time of the event. All USD figures have then been restated to the 2011 year-end purchasing power. Thus, the cases are reflecting the approximate USD value as of 2011 year-end derived from its historical original value. The paper reshuffles the data in certain ways so that the reader will have a better view of the cases than that of presented in Wikipedia.



Ilter, C. (2014), "Common grounds of accounting scandals reflected on Wikipedia", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 440-474.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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