- Apr 7, 2016
With a trophy in one hand and a prison ID card in the other, Andy Fastow told Ivey students the world isn’t black and white. There are grey areas where the rules aren’t clear, and it isn’t always easy to tell what’s right and what’s wrong.
That’s what the former CFO of Enron learned in 2001 when the Enron scandal broke, what some refer to as the greatest fraud in corporate American history. Fastow was indicted for 78 counts for his involvement, including fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy – all shortly after being named CFO of the Year.
“I never thought I was committing fraud,” he said. “I knew what I was doing was misleading – but I never thought it was illegal.”
Fastow spoke to HBA1 students as part of their week-long cross-enterprise leadership learning exercise. His talk was delivered via webcast, as he isn’t currently allowed to travel to Canada.
After spending six years in prison for his crimes, he has taken full accountability for his actions. He acknowledges the damage he did to himself, his company, and his coworkers and says these presentations are an opportunity for him to share the lessons he learned.
“It’s not only the rules, it’s the principles too,” he told the students. “That’s the simple essence of what I hope you take away from this lecture.”
And share he did. After he spoke, Fastow opened the floor to the students, giving out his personal cell phone number and encouraging them to text him any and all questions. At this point in his life, he said, there isn’t a question out there that could insult him.
“The impact was terrible,” he said. “It’s something that’s hard for me to live with every day.”