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The Biggest Business Fraud Cases Of The 2000s

There were a number of huge fraud cases in the 2000s

The 2000s saw some astonishing corporate fraud cases which saw a number of massive companies collapse due to criminal behaviour.

The decade between the start of the new millennium and 2010 saw the loss of huge companies, as well as the uncovering of the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history.

The behavior of corporate staff sadly mirrored that of fraudsters in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Here are the biggest business frauds of the 2000s.


Enron (2001)

Enron was a U.S. energy company that used accounting loopholes and special purpose entities to hide debt and inflate profits.

When its practices were uncovered, the company declared bankruptcy and its executives were prosecuted.

The scandal led to the dissolution of Arthur Andersen, one of the five largest audit and accountancy partnerships in the world at the time

The full story can be found here.

WorldCom (2002)

WorldCom, a telecom giant, overstated its assets by as much as $11 billion.

The resulting scandal led to bankruptcy, and CEO Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

More details on the scandal can be found here.

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Tyco International Scandal (2002)

Tyco executives were found guilty of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars through unapproved loans and fraudulent stock sales.

CEO Dennis Kozlowski and CFO Mark Swartz were convicted and sentenced to prison.

The case came to court in 2005 over $81 million in unauthorized bonuses.

It was also alleged Tyco paid for a $30 million New York Apartment, as well as personal gifts and parties.

These lavish gifts included $1 million towards a $2 million birthday party for Kozlowski’s wife.

He also paid a $20 million “finding fee” to a member of Tyco’s board without approval.

Paintings worth $14 million were also invoiced to Tyco’s offices but somehow ended up in his apartment.

Read the full story here.

Adelphia Communications Scandal (2002)

The Rigas family, founders of Adelphia Communications, one of the largest cable companies in the U.S., were charged with bank fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy.

They had concealed liabilities from corporate investors and used company funds for personal luxuries.

Federal prosecutors proved the Rigas family used complex cash management schemes to spread money around a number of family-owned entities as cover for stealing $100 million.

John and Timothy Rigas were found guilty in June 2005.

Jon Rigas was jailed for 15 years and Timony Rigas for 20.

10 years into the sentence, John Rigas developed terminal bladder cancer and was released.

He died in September 2021 at the age of 96.

HealthSouth Fraud (2003)

HealthSouth, a large U.S. healthcare services provider, inflated its earnings by nearly $1.5 billion to meet investor expectations.

The CEO, Richard Scrushy, was acquitted of the 36 counts of accounting fraud, but was later sent to prison on bribery charges.

Scrushy was charged for fraud but exonerated of all 36 of fraud counts in June 2005.

However, he was sued for fraud by HealthSouth investors and ordered to repay his company $2.8 billion.

Shortly after the fraud trial, new charges of bribery and mail fraud were brought against him.

He denied those charges too, but was found guilty in 2006 and jailed for six years and 10 months.

Read the full story here

Parmalat Bankruptcy (2003)

Italian dairy and food corporation Parmalat declared bankruptcy after it was revealed that its accounting documents were forged, creating a 14 billion euro hole in its balance sheet.

Calisto Tanzi, the company's founder faced a series of trials along with other company executives and a number of prominent Italian bankers.

Tanzi was convicted of market-rigging, fraudulent bankruptcy and other charges and sentenced to several jail terms.

He was convicted for up to 18 years, but spent just two years in prison and the rest of his sentence under house arrest.

He died in January 2022.

Bernie Madoff Ponzi Fraud (2008)

Bernie Madoff, a respected financier, ran an elaborate Ponzi scheme, tricking investors out of billions of dollars.

When the fraud was discovered, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

It was deemed to be the biggest fraud in American history.

The fraud led to significant regulatory changes, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was designed to improve corporate governance and prevent similar frauds from occurring in the future.

Read the full story here.

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