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    WorldCom's down -- and Cerf's up | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 40 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: WorldCom's down -- and Cerf's up
    by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Wednesday June 26 2002, @09:13AM (#7499)
    User #2810 Info
    Cerf is a senior VP at WorldCom. Should he have known about cooked books (and note that WorldCom was already under investigation, for loans to top execs amongst other things)? Perhaps, perhaps not. He may well just be a trophy tech. Cerf is also Chair of the ICANN BoD. Should he have known about many things ICANNian about which he professes ignorance? Probably. But again, he's just a trophy tech. Although everyone from Enron to WorldCom to yer local bakesale committee can manage to pass their meeting minutes within a few months at the outside, one can't expect him to just up and ask why ICANN takes over 18 months, and counting, to do the same. I mean, come on, it's not like the BoD or its Chair has any say, or apparent interest, in such things.

    And that is exactly the point, this turning of a blind eye by those who have the fiduciary duty of oversight is endemic in US corporate culture. It is a fair (indeed necessary) question to ask whether that rot and corruption is present in ICANN. -g

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: WorldCom's down -- and Cerf's up
    by Anonymous on Wednesday June 26 2002, @12:22PM (#7509)
    This post was about associating Cerf with cooked books at WorldCom. There is nothing to show that he was in a position to know anything about this. You're just jumping at this for attack purposes and not based on any real information.
    are we really to believe that the CFO, and only the CFO, of WorldCom was in the know about $3.8 billion in restatements? if not, and i think not, then it's entirely fair -- more than that, it's an ethical imperative -- to ask who else knew; and, further, to wonder how it's come to pass that some who could have and should have known managed to remain completely in the dark about fraud on such an epic scale.

    it's not like these restatements are the only fishy-smelling thing about that company. are we really to expect that senior management was unaware that the company's market cap had been plummeting? or that that could only have a serious impact on the company's ability to function? or that among the results would be tremendous pressures to make things like nice and purty? those are just sensible questions that anyone should ask. now let's get down to some specifics. are we really to expect that senior management was unaware that the company had extended $366 million in loans to its CEO? or, a little closer to cerf's turf, that the company was writing off basic network operating costs as capital investment? those kinds of activities should have made senior management wonder what else was afoot. and, indeed, it did: this restatement comes as a result of an internal investigation. so some of cerf's colleagues had enough of a clue not just to wonder but to act in a very aggressive way.

    sorry, but i don't buy the MYOB/compartmentalization defense. senior officers of corporations have at minimum a fiduciary obligation to ensure that their company isn't engaged in criminal activity. just how much lunacy does it take for them to start proactively asking questions before the shit hits the fan? $366 million wasn't enough, it seems: it took $3.8 billion before some of them started peeking over the edge of their cubicle.

    now, this line of argument is not, despite the best efforts of a bunch of anonymous cowards, tantamount to smearing cerf. if i had wanted to smear him by association, believe me, i could have done just that. i didn't. instead, i pointed out that WorldCom's woes are part of a much broader crisis in corporate governance, and that it's fair to ask whether ICANN's board has fallen prey to the same kinds of slack malfeasance that seem to be epidemic in the ICT sector.

    the answer might be no, but first you have to ask the question. and given the growing ranks of people and organizations who've been actively warning ICANN that it's headed in a very wrong direction, the question is in no way idle.

    and before you start spouting a bunch a pious-sounding vagaries 'on cerf's behalf,' read his own principles again:

    I would prefer the pain of blunt honesty to the anesthetic of diplomatic dissimulation.

    if that's the case, then asking him some hard questions about the relation between ICANN's board and its staff is in order.

    --tbyfield
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]


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