Price Waterhouse Coopers, Satyam and H-1B
January 27, 2009, 11:06 PM
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Slashdot is running a story by "theodp" on how Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC ) is getting implicated in the Satyam scandal. Both Satyam and PWC are heavy users of H-1b visas.[See Price Waterhouse Auditors Arrested in Satyam Inquiry, By Harichandan Arakali and Saikat Chatterjee, Bloomberg News, January 24, 2009]

In 1998, I was a contractor on a job where PWC was brought in to investigate a CEO who wound up serving time in a Federal prison. What people need to understand is that companies like PWC are virtually a privatized branch of government. One IRS agent told me one time that at this point, the IRS simply cannot audit many larger companies without companies like PWC getting involved heavily—and companies like PWC are the epitome of State Capitalism/corporate welfare.

I personally think the Satyam/PWC fraud is the tip of the iceberg. A serious house cleaning is needed. The idea that a company with the deep pockets of PWC "needs" H-1b visas at all is simply greed, treason and stupidity on the part of the management of those companies. Their wealth exists because of social/economic arrangements in the United States. Countries like Japan outperform the US with about 5% as many accountants per capita as the US has.

The US is traditionally a middle class country. The expansion of companies like PWC was largely a middle class—and upper middle class—jobs program dating from the end of WW II. If those jobs are no longer going to citizens, what is the point of a politician supporting this kind of pork?

The thing is, once you get organized criminal gangs into entities like PWC, the elites in the US loose much of their ability to understand what is going on in the US economy as a whole. Companies like PWC are largely what folks managing large sums of money use to determine the basic facts of what is going on in larger companies. If that mechanism is fundamentally compromised, this suggests the potential for some serious chaos ahead. I learned how this works because the PWC audit I assisted with had been preceded by a Peat Marwick audit that had given the crooked CEO a clean bill of health.

I was told by folks I was working with that Arthur Andersen was in trouble months before it hit the news. I suspect that this and related fallout will make Enron look tiny. Putting a bunch of young men far from home, in a country they don't particularly identify with,  in charge of a lot of money is simply financial idiocy 101. PWC can't even do a good background check of employees from India.

I wonder is if any of the various international intelligence agencies and terrorist organizations that have figured out just how vulnerable the US financial system is with dolts like PWC's management running the show. I suspect that has happened—and literally every major political figure with a dirty little secret that could be traced via credit cards or phone records is vulnerable to having his chain yanked.