Financial Statement Fraud, Part One

Financial statement fraud usually involves overstating assets, revenues and profits and understating liabilities, expenses and losses. However, the overall objective of the manipulation may sometimes require the opposite action.

Financial statement fraud is the deliberate misrepresentation of the financial condition of an enterprise accomplished through the intentional misstatement or omission of amounts or disclosures in the financial statements to deceive financial statement users.

Financial statement fraud is usually a means to an end rather than an end in itself. When people "cook the books" they may doing it to "buy more time" to quietly fix business problems that prevent their entities from achieving its expected earnings or complying with loan covenants. It may also be done to obtain or renew financing that would not be granted or would be smaller if honest financial statements were provided. People intent on profiting from crime may commit financial statement fraud to obtain loans they can then siphon off for personal gain or to inflate the price of the company's shares, allowing them to sell their holdings or exercise stock options at a profit. However, in many past cases of financial statement fraud, the perpetrators have gained little or nothing personally in financial terms. Instead the focus appears to have been preserving their status as leaders of the entity - a status that might have been lost had the real financial results been published promptly.

Financial statement fraud usually involves overstating assets, revenues, and profits and understating liabilities, expenses, and losses. However, the overall objective of the manipulation may sometimes require the opposite action, e.g., concealing higher-than-expected revenues or profits in a good year to help the subsequent year that is expected to be tougher.

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