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"Low Man on the Totem Pole – How I Became a White Collar Criminal"

  • May 08, 2018
  • 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • HESS Club 5430 Westheimer Rd, Houston TX 77056
  • 91


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Presentation: "Low Man on the Totem Pole: How I Became a White Collar Criminal"

Speaker: Helen Sharkey, Former Dynegy Employee, Convicted Fraudster

Presentation Description:  Helen Sharkey will speak regarding her role at Dynegy and subsequent conviction.  She will discuss how she became involved at Dynegy, the consequences, and her personal observations regarding what happened.

From the Houston Chronicle: "Her story is a cautionary tale that aspiring accountants - and other corporate employees - need to hear. For anyone who thinks that following orders or being a team player offers any legal protection, Sharkey's story is a wakeup call. The line between loyalty and criminality can be thinner than many employees realize.

In 2006, Sharkey, who worked at Houston-based Dynegy, served 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. An accountant with experience in risk management, she was assigned to the team creating the infamous Project Alpha, a $300 million scheme that inflated Dynegy's cash flow."

From the SEC release:  "The Securities and Exchange Commission  filed securities fraud charges against three former employees of Dynegy Inc. in connection with their roles in Dynegy's Project Alpha, a $300 million financing transaction that disguised the company's true financial condition. In a civil suit filed in the U.S. District Court in Houston, the Commission sought fines and disgorgement of all of the defendants' ill-gotten gains, including bonuses and trading profits received during the period of their misconduct.

The Commission alleges that the three defendants disregarded accounting advice from Dynegy's outside auditors, established secret side agreements to conceal their improper conduct, authorized the improper elimination of risk by equity investors in a special-purpose entity and concealed transaction details from the company, the company's auditors and the investing public."

Helen received an accounting degree from Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas. She went to work for Price Waterhouse in Houston for the energy audit practice shortly after graduating, and passed the CPA exam that same year. After 3 years in public accounting, she was recruited to join an energy trading company named Dynegy.

CPE Credits: 1.0 CPE Hours 1.0

Learning Objective:

To learn from a convicted fraudster of the thought processes behind fraud as it developed, and to learn the personal consequences of a fraud conviction.     

To understand the choices made in a career which became criminal and how ethics were ethical considered.


Event Policies:

If you have registered and/or paid for an event and you need to cancel, you MUST email events@houstonacfe.org no later than 5 days prior to the event to request a refund and/or cancel your registration.


For more information regarding refund, complaint and/or program cancellation policies, please visit the Terms & Conditions section of the website, or email us at events@houstonacfe.org.     


Additional Information:

Delivery Method: Group-Live

Prerequisites: Working Knowledge of Fraud and Fraud Schemes

Field of Study: Fraud Examination

"Who Should Attend?:  Anti-fraud professionals, Auditors, Accountants, Attorneys, Investigators, Law Enforcement, Educators, Students

Advanced Preparation: None

Program Level: Intermediate

NASBA Sponsor No. 125230

The Houston Area Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have the final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: www.learningmarket.org.


Houston Area ACFE Chapter
PO Box 22853
Houston, Texas 77227-2853

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