How Understanding the Business Can Keep You Out of Trouble

If you want another reason to immerse yourself in your company’s business, look no further than the arrest of
two programmers
who worked for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

On GuardThe FBI arrested Jerome O’Hara, 46, and George Perez, 43,
at their homes on Friday morning on criminal charges of conspiracy for
falsifying books and records at both the broker-dealer and investment arms of
Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in New York.

The computer codes and random algorithms they
allegedly designed served to deceive investors and regulators and concealed
Madoff’s crimes,” said federal prosecutor Preet Bharara. “They have
been charged for their roles in Madoff’s epic fraud, and the investigation
remains ongoing.”

Although
Madoff’s O’Hara and Perez allegedly understood the ramifications of their
unorthodox
coding practices, programmers are often asked to amend their work
without knowing
the laws or professional standards that govern a business.
Sure, it’s rare for a programmer to be duped into making illegal
changes, but it’s a good
idea to remain vigilant and educate yourself on your business’s
fundamentals, since
you may be held liable for your actions.

Understanding the practice areas you support will not only
make you more valuable, it may prevent you from inadvertently participating in
an illegal scheme. If you don’t understand the reasons for
programming changes, ask questions and consult outside mentors or colleagues if your suspicions are aroused. And
remember to document programming directives that deviate from standard business
protocol, in case you have to defend your actions.

— Leslie Stevens-Huffman

Comments

One Response to “How Understanding the Business Can Keep You Out of Trouble”

December 03, 2009 at 4:04 am, H V said:

Are you stupid, or what.

If your boss says write a program to do something,
then you write a program to do it. Otherwise you don’t have a job.

When a person breaks the LAW, then that person MUST be held responsible for their actions, and suffer when they get caught.

Quit trying to blame everyone else, especially programmers who do not have any other choice but to do what they are TOLD to do.

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