Apparently, fraud is a legitimate business strategy for certain Chinese firms. My job is to research those "prestigious" companies that choose to adopt this business practice and provoke further investigation. I'm a "voluntary forensic accountant and financial investigator"; it sounds better than "intern."
Last Tuesday was my first day on the job at the China Economic Review, a business magazine aspiring to be the Economist of China. I had a preview of the 14th floor office a week prior for my interview, and was able to take a moment to marvel at its spectacular view of the area around People's Square. Unfortunately, the panorama of skyscrapers must have been far too distracting, as the window blinds sealed the office I was in off from the outside world.
As for the work, I spent upwards of five hours browsing through various financial statements and reports concerning fraud accusations against an NYSE-traded Chinese company. Now, I'm sure that that sentence alone is bursting with so much action and excitement that many of you are on the edge of your seats, yearning to know what conclusions I have drawn. Well, for me it is exciting and action-packed, and that, frankly, is what counts.
Although I could have compressed the entire process into about two hours, enabling me to beat the claustrophobia of the rush-hour subway, I enjoyed spending the time I did researching this fascinating scam. It appears that the company hides its finances behind a veil of enormous profit margin numbers, mismatched tax payments, and revenue figures that vary depending on which country it reports to.
What does all this mean? I have no idea. I'm just an intern. However, considering the information I have gathered, I believe that this firm's actions warrant further investigation. This Friday, I hope to help pitch the idea with my boss to the wonderful folks who have the writing abilities to share this valuable information with US investors.
And, finally, it feels good to have this opportunity to exercise the skills I've been developing over the past few years in the real world. It will be an interesting—and exciting—internship.