But what if one or more accountants are directed to generate false reports, intended to deceive? Sleepless nights for everyone.
It is alleged that finance folks at Steinhoff, which owns MattressFirm (USA), Poundland (UK) and Conforama (France), and has operations on five continents, have been using off-balance-sheet entities to hide losses and thereby inflate the firm's net worth and share price.
There's more subjectivity, estimation and judgment involved in accounting than many people realize. But when intent to deceive is introduced, it's a different ball game.
It appears that Steinhoff may join the ranks of names like ENRON, WorldCom and Sunbeam for accounting malfeasance. Sad.