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Healthsouth: Fraud, Greed & Corporate Governance

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HealthSouth: Fraud, Greed & Corporate Governance
Marilyn J. Bordeaux
HCS 5339

Rachael Kehoe

HealthSouth: Fraud, Greed & Corporate Governance
During the 1990s, Richard M. Scrushy, the former CEO of HealthSouth Corporation, engineered many acquisitions of rehabilitation clinics, outpatient surgical care operators, nursing homes and other health care companies. In 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused the company and Scrushy of inflating earnings to the tune of $1.4 billion since 1999. In November 2003, a federal grand jury indicted Scrushy on 85 counts including conspiracy, securities fraud, money laundering and charges related to overstating HealthSouth’s earnings by nearly $3.0 billion. According to federal investigators, the company overstated earnings to meet analysts’ earning estimates, while hiding the accounting fraud from the auditors. However, questions were raised whether the auditors failed to find or simply overlooked the fraud at HealthSouth. Central to the investigation was the issue of what role Scrushy played in “cooking the books.” However, as the case unfolded, it highlighted many other issues such as: The role of Board of Directors in corporate governance; the role of the auditors; the effect of conflict of interest between an accounting firm and its consulting arm on auditing; whether the relationship between an investment bank and a company affects the quality of the bank’s research reports on the company; whether the executive compensation that overly relies on company’s earnings provides an incentive for committing such fraud; whether a strong leader can silence all voices of reason in an organization. Background Scrushy, once a high school dropout, worked as a gas station attendant and a bricklayer before returning to school and earning his diploma. He studied at University of Alabama, Birmingham and graduated...

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