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USD Accounting professor’s Madoff case study published

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Srini Ragothaman, Ph.D., accounting professor at the University of South Dakota, recently published a case study on the Madoff fraud in Issues in Accounting Education, a leading national journal published by the American Accounting Association (AAA). Ragothaman examined the fraudulent activities that occurred in Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities (BMIS) between 1992 and 2008. After a rigorous review process, his case study was published in February. The acceptance rate for this association-wide journal is about 10 to 12 percent. This case study was also a finalist for the 2011 George Krull/AICPA Teaching Innovation Award at the Denver national AAA meeting.

Because it is based on one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history, students appreciated the case narrative and could easily relate to real world occurrences. About 170 USD accounting majors participated in this case project, answering 10 conceptual questions in detail over a three-year period. Students who worked in groups were genuinely engaged in the learning process, and they came up with several red flags associated with the BMIS fraud and suggested many new internal controls. This case provided a hands-on learning experience to students that could be relevant for them in their future career in public accounting. Even though the initial estimate of the fraud was about $65 billion, it turned out that Madoff had actually cheated his investors to the tune of $20 billion.

“The Madoff case study provides students with a better understanding of the concepts of professional skepticism, internal control weaknesses, materiality decisions and fraud risk assessment,” said Ragothaman, who is a chartered accountant and joined the USD faculty in 1991. “It enables students to recognize and more fully understand how naivety/greed combined with regulatory failures can dramatically affect retiree investments.”

Ragothaman concluded that lessons learned by students from using this case study may help them stay alert to future Ponzi schemes, control weaknesses, and governance failures in their professional life. Download a photo of Ragothaman.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News