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Drake to host accounting fraud lecture

October 29, 2012

Weston Smith, former CFO of the Fortune 500 company HealthSouth Corporation, will present "Crossing the Line: An Insider's Story of the HealthSouth Fraud" on Nov. 1. The event is free and open to the public and begins at 7 p.m. in Old Main's Sheslow Auditorium.

During Smith's tenure at HealthSouth, the organization was the subject of a multi-billion dollar accounting fraud. Smith came forward and admitted to the fraud, accepting the consequences of his actions, which included serving 14 months in a federal prison followed by four months in a halfway house.

Smith's presentation will tell the story of the company fraud, including its beginnings, execution, and how detection was avoided. He will also advise attendees of the financial and non-financial "red flags" of corporate misconduct. Smith intends to use his story as a challenge for the audience to "do the right thing" when handling corporate financial affairs.

"I hope this lecture will illustrate how otherwise honest people can commit significant dishonest acts," says Stephen Gara, associate professor of accounting and director of the School of Accounting. "This is a great chance for our students and community members to truly learn about and grasp the motivations behind these types of actions and understand the very real consequences."

Smith is a former CPA who graduated from the University of North Alabama. He contributes regularly to corporate fraud research and travels across the nation to speak to groups about the consequences of unethical conduct.

The presentation is part of an annual lecture series hosted by Financial Executives International (FEI) and Drake University's School of Accounting.

For more information, contact Stephen Gara at 515-271-2156 or stephen.gara@drake.edu.