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Extraordinary Circumstances

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Extraordinary Circumstances

The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

In business and life, making ethical decisions takes courage. Just ask ex-WorldCom VP Cynthia Cooper – the whistleblower.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Well Structured
  • Inspiring


Cynthia Cooper, ex-WorldCom VP and former head of its internal auditing department, is a genuine hero. Despite her supervisors’ pressure, browbeating and subterfuge, Cooper uncovered and exposed the massive WorldCom corporate fraud. When her information became public, it set off a cataclysmic chain of events: WorldCom exploded like dynamite. It filed for bankruptcy. Investors lost billions on the suddenly worthless stock. CEO Bernie Ebbers went to jail for 25 years. Other executives received prison sentences. Being a whistleblower is painfully difficult, but Cooper stuck to her guns, as she relates in this personal and sometimes even chatty saga. getAbstract recommends her instructive, inspiring book as a gripping corporate story and a cautionary tale.


WorldCom Blows Up

In June 2002, WorldCom announced that it was in serious financial trouble. The enormous telecommunications company had $38 billion in annual revenues, operations in 65 countries and 100,000 employees, but it was imploding due to the largest corporate fraud in history. The announcement stated, “As a result of an internal audit of the company’s capital expenditure accounting, it was determined that certain transfers...were not made in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.” That news flash was the PR understatement of the year. At the time of the release, WorldCom told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it had to “restate its financials by $3.8 billion.”

The SEC quickly brought a civil suit against WorldCom, although its stock had long been a Wall Street favorite. Scant years earlier, it had ranked first in shareholder return. Prior to its demise, only four companies had more stockholders. But after its first 17,000 layoffs and the SEC suit, WorldCom’s stock value dropped from its all-time high of $64 to $0.09 before NASDAQ suspended its trading. WorldCom investors lost everything and its sudden fall shocked the...

About the Author

Cynthia Cooper is the former head of internal auditing at WorldCom.

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