ENRON ON THE POTOMAC?….There are problems at Fannie Mae. But who gets the blame?
Chief executive Franklin D. Raines and the board of directors were not singled out for blame, but the report criticized “a culture and environment that made these problems possible.” It did name W. Timothy Howard, the company’s vice chairman and chief financial officer, saying he “failed to provide adequate oversight” of key control and reporting functions and had jobs in which he both set earnings targets and then the accounting polices that could be used to meet them.
I’m really tired of this charade. With only the very rarest of exceptions (which usually involve obvious embezzlement of some kind), CEOs always know what the CFO is doing when it comes to broad accounting models. That goes for Ken Lay, Dick Cheney, Franklin Raines, and every other CEO. They know. One of these days, CFOs are going to have to form a union or something to keep them from being the sole fall guy in these cases.
On another note, if you’re interested in the problems at both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you might want to check out Ben Wallace-Wells’ cover story in the April issue of the Washington Monthly. Anyone who read that article five months ago won’t be even slightly surprised by today’s news.