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UI's Role Cited in Helping Find Company Misdeeds

Professors have long been friends to securities regulators, uncovering suspicious trading and accounting patterns that lead to multimillion-dollar settlements. These researchers are about to get a new tool in the form of XBRL-tagged data, which will provide a treasure trove of easily accessible information to comb through, and could potentially lead to more enforcement actions. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week proposed a timetable requiring about 500 of the largest public companies to begin filing their financial data in XBRL, or extensible business reporting language, in early 2009. Professors at the UNIVERSITY OF IOWA and Indiana University spent months poring over data from SEC documents and found many options grants were timed to exploit marketwide price depressions that not even insiders could predict, meaning that at least some of the grants must have been backdated.

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