Sherron Watkins, the Enron executive credited with helping expose the company's alleged financial statement fraud, will be a featured speaker at the 13th Annual Fraud Conference & Trade Show Aug. 4-9 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.
Other general session speakers will include former white-collar criminal John Everroad Jr., and newly elected Association Regent J. Scott Newton, J.D., CFE, assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, who will be presenting an update on new laws affecting fraud examiners.
Before the Enron debacle came to light, Watkins had written two memos to then-Chairman Kenneth Lay expressing her serious misgivings about Enron's and possibly illegal accounting methods. In a seven-page memo to Lay, she wrote, "I am incredibly nervous that we will implode in a wave of accounting scandals." In the same memo she also wrote, "I have heard one manager-level employee from the principal investments group say, 'I know it would be devastating to all of us, but I wish we would get caught. We're such a crooked company.'" Investigators later found the memos in a box at Enron headquarters. Congressional committees released the seven-page memo, questioned her twice in February, and lauded her as a hero. (See article on page 20.) Watkins will present "Enron: An Insider's Story" at the working lunch on Monday, Aug. 5.
"The shocking discovery of widespread fraud at Enron," said Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, founder and Chairman of the Association, "was made possible only because employees like Ms. Watkins were brave enough to accept the fact that by coming forward they might be forever tarred as 'whistleblowers.'
"Concerned citizens aren't whistleblowers. In fact, at this particular moment in American history, there's no more critical message than this: people have both the right and the responsibility to report wrongdoing. We're delighted that Ms. Watkins, an accountant, has agreed to share her experiences at Enron with an eager audience of anti-fraud professionals. She's a credit to us all."