Posted by Alexander D. Bakogiannis.
Earlier this year the SEC reported that a medical device company named Orthofix was being charged with improperly booking revenue and making improper payment to doctors and government owned hospitals in Brazil.
They improperly recorded revenues as soon as a product was shipped before securing payments. When a company makes revenues from its operations, it must be recorded in their ledgers and then reported on the income statements every reporting period. According to GAAP, there are two criteria the company must meet before it can record revenues. First there must be a critical event that triggered the transaction process, and the amount collected from that transaction is measurable within a certain degree of reliability. These wrongdoings cost the company over $14 M to settle charges.
One specific instance involved Orthofix recording revenue even when they gave their customers significant extensions of time to make payment. A company can recognize revenue from a transaction when the buyer of the company’s good or service agrees to a purchase, and the amount that the customer is going to pay is determined. By giving their consumers all this time to make their payments, the payments are fully determined, thus all the revenues should not have been recorded yet. These accounting failures make the company misstate data on their financial statement from 2011 to 2013. “Their accounting failures were so widespread that it caused them to make false statements to the general public regarding their financial condition”.
Orthofix violated the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) when their associates in Brazil used high discounts and made improper payments through third parties to solicit doctors employed by the government to use their products; fake invoices were used to facilitate this. All of this could have been avoided or contained if Orthofix had the proper internal controls in place and to ensure that proper payments were being made on their behalf to the correct individuals, and the right data was being recorded at the times times. Unfortunately, this was not the case. As a result, their sales were inflated.
Alex is an MBA with concentration in Accounting, and a Forensic Accounting Certificate, Class of 2017.