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When Good Audits Go… Good. (+ Sex Scandal)

oil!.jpgThis is the sort of story that you can’t make up. Like the story of the guy who tried to write off prostitutes and porn as a “medical expense”.
Wait a second. Oil “programs,” federal misconduct, drugs, sex, AND bad accounting?! This might be the best thing I’ve read in weeks.
Continued, after the jump


The Interior Department announced on Wednesday that it was ending an oil and gas royalty program that ignited a scandal last year when it was disclosed that federal employees had engaged in corruption, drug use and sexual misconduct with oil industry officials.
Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, told a House committee that he was phasing out the royalty-in-kind program, which is administered by the department’s Minerals Management Service. It allows oil companies to pay the government in oil and gas rather than in cash for the right to drill on federal lands. Recent audits have shown that the government has failed to collect tens of millions of dollars worth of royalties owed it under the program.

Everyone knows I am not the mathlete but tens of millions seems fairly clear to me. Did NYT really have to use “right to drill” in that too? This might be the seediest accounting scandal I’ve seen since the phone sex company that booked revenues too soon (I think that’s called the premature double entry method):

Four Star Financial was another firm with results too good to be true. Once a thriving financial services firm that paid as much as 18 percent on returns to investors, Four Star performed well for years. The closely held firm had invested in 900-numbers and collected on their unpaid receivables. It also made short-term loans at high interest rates. But when the 900-number industry began to slide in the mid-1990s, the firm (then called 900 Capital Services) sought new ways to pay off investors.
A class action lawsuit alleges that Four Star undertook a Ponzi scheme described as the “‘Argentina arbitrage transaction” defrauding investors of at least $40 million. The deal purportedly involved the sale of long-distance telephone arbitrage contracts in Argentina.
According to the Web site Four Star, which apprises former investors of ongoing litigation and company news, most investors–largely concentrated on the Westside–believed Four Star dealt exclusively in telecommunications. The suit further claims that both 900 Capital and Four Star had questionable investments from their inception.

Too easy. It’s almost as if they write themselves sometimes.