Coming on the heels of accusations that the SEC is trending toward less vigorous enforcement against financial reporting violations, the SEC published here and here its settlements with the two Arthur Andersen partners that planned and supervised the 2001 audit of WorldCom. Six years later, the settlements amount to little more than slaps on the wrist: both auditors were suspended from practicing before the SEC for at least three years, no monetary penalties were assessed, and no admissions of guilt were obtained. (By the way, one of the auditors has let his CPA license lapse, and the other is still licensed as a CPA in Mississippi.)
I have three questions for the SEC. First, why were these individuals allowed to settle without admitting or denying guilt in what appears to have been an open-and-shut case? Second, why were no monetary penalties assessed? Third, why did it take six years, with only this so-called “settlement” to show for all this time and, presumably, effort?