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WorldCom Whistle Blower Cynthia Cooper to Speak at Hotel Bethlehem
Author of “Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower”
Bethlehem, Pa., March 12, 2008—Cynthia Cooper, the former vice president at WorldCom who uncovered the largest corporate fraud in history, will speak the Hotel Bethlehem during a public lecture on Sunday, April 6 at 8 p.m. in the Main Ball Room. During her talk, sponsored by Moravian College’s Department of Economics and Business, Cooper will discuss ethics, leadership, and the importance of role models for women in business. Cooper will delve into topics from her book, Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower. The talk is open to the public and admission is free of charge; however, those interested in attending must reserve a seat by calling 610 625-7880 or registering online at http://www.moravian.edu/Cooper.
Earlier in the evening, Cooper will take part in the Economics & Business Annual Dinner that showcases the activities of the Department’s student clubs and honors outstanding student achievement, that includes the induction of new ODE members.
Cooper blew the whistle on the largest corporate fraud in history when she discovered that WorldCom had been classifying operating costs as capital expenditures, thereby inflating its profits. She told the auditing committee of WorldCom's board in June 2002 that the company had been using suspect accounting practices. Within days, the board fired WorldCom's chief financial officer (CFO), Scott Sullivan and eventually disclosed that it inflated profits by transferring routine expenses to capital expenditures, making its earnings appear larger than they actually were—improperly accounting for more than $3.9 billion in revenue.
The aftermath of the fraud was devastating to WorldCom employees and investors. The company laid off 17,000 workers within a week and its shares dropped from a high of $64.50 in 1999 to 20 cents in 2002. In 2004, WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and conspiracy in connection with what was an $11 billion fraud. He was found guilty a year later by a federal jury for fraud, conspiracy, and filing false documents with regulators. Cooper says exposing WorldCom's fraud was “the most difficult thing I've ever been through in my life. Sometimes,” she adds, “doing the right thing has a cost, and that cost can be severe.”
Cooper has been celebrated by the media and an array of professional organizations for her professionalism and ethics. Time Magazine’s named Cooper one of its 2002 Persons of the Year for her role in detecting and reporting the massive fraud at WorldCom. The distinction is given by Time to the person or person(s) who most affected events during the year.
Cooper was the first woman to be inducted to the 2004 American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Hall of Fame. She was featured as one of 25 influential working mothers in the November 2004 issue of Working Mother. Along with Senator Sarbanes, Representative Oxley and Sherron Watkins, Cooper was awarded the 2003 Maria & Sidney E. Rolfe Award by the Women’s Economic Round Table. This award was presented to Cooper due to her contributions to educating the public about economics, business and finance.
Cooper is also the 2003 recipient of the Accounting Exemplar Award, which is awarded annually to an individual who has made notable contributions to professionalism and ethics in accounting practice or education. The American Accounting Association’s Public Interest Section recognized Cooper for her efforts to promote professionalism and ethics in the accounting profession. Cooper is the tenth recipient of the Accounting Exemplar Award and the first woman to receive the award.
Cooper previously served as the chief audit executive for MCI until July 2004. Prior to joining MCI, she worked in public accounting in Atlanta, Georgia for Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Deloitte & Touche. Cooper received her undergraduate degree in Accounting from Mississippi State University and her Masters of Accountancy from the University of Alabama.
Cooper is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Georgia, a Certified Information Systems Auditor and a Certified Fraud Examiner. In addition to her professional designations, she is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, The Institute of Internal Auditors and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Cooper previously served on the Accounting Advisory Board for the University of Alabama, and currently serves as the Chairperson of the Louisiana State University Center for Internal Auditing Advisory Board. Ms. Cooper speaks to both students and professionals across the country to share some of the lessons she has learned and to emphasize the importance of strong ethical and moral leadership.
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.