Embezzlement Team wins first annual Bernard Madoff Creative Accounting Challenge
The Lafayette College Embezzlement Team placed first in the first annual Bernard Madoff Creative Accounting Challenge, held Friday, March 27 in the Goldman Sachs building in New York’s financial district. A check of $50,000 was awarded to members. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said team adviser Professor Allard Pingry ’71.
In the final round of competition, the group stuffed more theoretical money in their pockets than teams from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in order to win the championship. The team was composed of eight juniors and seniors, all who vehemently denied any connection to the group.
“The competition wasn’t limited to just embezzlement, so we thought we’d be in over our heads at first,” said an unnamed team member.
“Skimming the pot had a big part obviously, but we also had to simulate constructing a pyramid scheme, massaging numbers so profits appear consistent, combining risky investments to make them look viable, and lobbying against government regulation in both the House and Senate and the public in general,” said another anonymous team member between sips of Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac.
“If we don’t give our employees multimillion dollar bonuses, they will leave our company and go elsewhere! Good stuff, right?” The panel of judges, comprised of former CEOs of Enron, Lehman Brothers, and Goldman Sachs, certainly thought so.
Team members said it was clear that victory was at hand when they basically recreated the 2008 housing crisis before the judges even realized what they were attempting to do. “We knew that strategy would be risky with the crisis so fresh in the public memory, but that made it even better when we were able to bundle risky mortgages in the simulation without anyone seeing through what we were doing,” said another proud embezzler.
The team said they were able to gain practical experience while at Lafayette. “We were able to get $25,000 from the college just for transportation to the competition,” a senior on the team explained with a wink and a smile. “Buses are getting very expensive, if you know what I’m saying.”
When questioned regarding this seemingly egregious allocation of funds, representatives of Student Government said that they believed that the money was going to subsidize an Alternative Spring Break trip to Haiti. “We can’t figure out what happened to it,” said a Student Government representative who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s like it disappeared.”
Though the Embezzlement Team is not officially sanctioned by the college, team members believe that their experience has added something invaluable to their Lafayette experiences.
“Yes, the college has done a great job of educating me about economics and financial markets, but these are the practical, day-to-day issues I will have to deal with once I move into the financial sector,” said another senior team member who also asked not to be named. “Also, check out my new Rolex! It used to be financial aid.”