Three years after Arthur Anderson’s conviction on obstruction of justice charges, the revisionists are closing in. The public has largely moved on, satisfied that something is being done even if the outcome isn’t neat and clean.
The passage of time has obscured some sins, leading people to question whether Arthur Andersen — and perhaps similar companies — should have been charged in the first place. Reformists have patted themselves on the back, and accounting firms do brisk business, actually hiring auditors under Sarbanes-Oxley.
The moments after a major scandal — when everyone is brimming with righteous anger — doesn’t determine the actual outcome. Was convicting Arthur Andersen a mistake? Is Sarbanes-Oxley a sham? What will happen to Enron? Global Crossing?