The Department of Justice announced this week that Accenture LLP has agreed to pay the United States $64 million to settle a Qui Tam lawsuit alleging that it had accepted kickbacks from IT companies to recommend their products to its government clients. Accenture denied any wrongdoing, of course, stating that it settled in order to save time and get the embarrassing issue behind it. Accenture was a spin-off from Arthur Anderson, the accountancy firm which collapsed after a U.S. court found that it had obstructed an investigation into Enron. Accenture has about 223 thousand employees in 120 countries with revenues last year of $ 35.4 billion.
Accenture had contracts with various Governmental agencies to recommend IT solutions. In exchange for recommending specific products, vendors like HP, Cisco, and IBM would pay (or, to use the DoJ term, "kickback") a sum of money to Accenture. Accenture called this practice "alliances" and claimed they were common in the industry.
Accenture has a very strong code of business ethics and a robust ethics and compliance program. It includes mechanisms for employees to report concerns, it claims to have transparency in its operations, and it has specific standards for federal business ethics and conduct. Obviously, something went very wrong.