UPDATE: Thanks for all the questions. I have to hop off for a bit but will pop in to answer any left over questions as much as I can. Feel free to continue to post and I will do my best to get to them. Again, thank you so much! ...

I’m Tony Menendez, a CPA and a corporate whistleblower. A decade ago, I was Halliburton’s Director of Technical Accounting and I witnessed some highly questionable accounting and auditing practices at Halliburton. After being told to “save it for the subpoena,” I blew the whistle. Although, Halliburton’s retaliation was swift, my journey through the legal process and the fight for my rights was not. I trusted the system and paid the price. After four years and losing at every stage in the legal process, I ran out of attorneys. With nothing left to lose, I spent several years representing myself. Now, nine years after blowing the whistle, I have prevailed and it appears that I am in the final throes of my battle with Halliburton. (Joe Ahmad, my attorney, is accompanying me.)

Ask me anything and while there certainly is no one-size-fits-all "right answers," I will do my best to provide answers based on my experience.

I am Jesse Eisinger, a senior reporter at ProPublica. I recently wrote a story about Tony. You can read his full tale here. I will be on hand to answer anything about the story.

PROOF: Tweet and announcement.

Comments: 1333 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

equilshift1453 karma

From your perspective, how do you think we can improve the whistleblowing experience?

I think you and people like you are truly patriotic, and we should do everything we can to encourage more of what you did. Any ideas on how to do that?

AnthonyJMenendez1799 karma

Thank you for the kind words. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for a whistleblower to prevail. There needs to be more protections and there simply needs to be a more balanced playing field. It shouldn't take 9 years and hundreds of thousands to even have a remote chance of prevailing.

THSCJRollins690 karma

Do you think the SEC leaked your name to someone at Halliburton?

AnthonyJMenendez703 karma

I hope not but I don't know for sure.

PresNixon627 karma

I heard a coworker/friend renamed you "Slugger" on their phone so that when you called, caller-ID didn't show it was you. Which I think is pretty cool and clever so they could talk to you without catching flack.

Do you still talk to that person?

AnthonyJMenendez728 karma

I do keep in touch with James Paquette. He is one of the best people I have ever met and I am very lucky to call him my friend.

Aximill531 karma

Did Halliburton have a whistle blower policy prior to this incident? If so, was it violated? Do most companies have such a policy?

AnthonyJMenendez917 karma

Yes indeed Halliburton had a whistleblower policy as required under Sarbanes-Oxley ... it was required to be confidential and Halliburton's policy promised confidentiality while at the same time discouraging anonymous complaints on the basis that if you didn't provide your identity they may not be able to properly investigate your concern. This was absolutely central to my case and I relied on this policy but was Halliburton blatantly ignored its own policy and betrayed my trust.

CBRjack348 karma

Were you afraid of physical threat at any point?

AnthonyJMenendez698 karma

I got the point that I could’t control what would happen but I didn’t plan on living my life being afraid…

YellowS2k325 karma

Were you afraid of getting shot by Dick Cheney?

AnthonyJMenendez558 karma

I never planned to go duck hunting with the man!

Bryskee276 karma

How does it feel to be awesome? Oh, and were you afraid to fight?

AnthonyJMenendez619 karma

Thanks for the kind words.
I wasn’t afraid to fight but I was afraid to quit. I tried my best to live by my fathers words… that “you can fail a 1000 times, but you can only give up, once”

AFewStupidQuestions228 karma

Did they try to smear your reputation in any way?

AnthonyJMenendez382 karma

Most definitely. The whole case seemed about smearing me.

Frajer168 karma

How much money did you wind up spending in legal fees ?

AnthonyJMenendez233 karma

It was a very expensive and time consuming endeveor and there is really no way for me to quantify that ... and at the sometime, its not over yet

BirdWormCheeseMouse165 karma

What strategy did you pursue in the beginning after witnessing wrong doing? What lessons could be learned from the process you had to go through?

AnthonyJMenendez223 karma

I did everything I could working within the Company at the expense of my career at Halliburton. However, it was widely recognized that the Company was improperly accounting for its revenue under bill-and-hold. I was told by my boss, that the Company was going to fix the bill-and-hold problem and get back within the lines of what is appropriate. However, the problem was too big to fix without a restatement. I was subsequently told to simply "save it for the subpoena". That's when I thought my only avenue was to take my concerns to the SEC.

Ironics21158 karma

Did you ever lose hope/ feel your fight was becoming a lost cause? How did you overcome the adversity?

AnthonyJMenendez321 karma

I can honestly say that there were many, many days were hope was a very hard thing to come by.... In fact, I started out with a tremendous amount of hope but over time and as I continued to lose at every stage of the fight, the only thing I had left was that I was simply afraid to quit.

RoyalWithChee142 karma

Has your experience made you regret the career path you chose? Do you plan on going back into a CPA type job once everything is said and done, or do you no longer have faith in Corporate Accounting?

AnthonyJMenendez201 karma

In some ways and at many various points in time, I have regretted my career choice.... but I haven't lost hope!

terps0920112 karma

Auditor at a Big 4 firm here, I find it unbeliveable that KPMG continued to issue an unqualified opinion (clean audit report)on the financials with this revenue recognition policy. How compliant do you think the partners at KPMG were in the cover up?

I know from experience that revenue recognition is the number one issue when it comes to any SEC company. The only thing I can think of is that the KPMG partners were pressured by Halliburton to turn a blind eye because of the leverage of the massive audit fee they get yearly.

AnthonyJMenendez134 karma

I believe that KPMG was involved in covering up Halliburton's bill-and-hold problem. KPMG ignored the SEC’s bill-and-hold rules and equally ignored its own guidance that it published entitled Bill-and-Hold Transactions in the Oilfield Services Industry which described Halliburton’s transactions.

Ralero101 karma

Will you actually gain money from this or?

AnthonyJMenendez234 karma

The short answer is "NO"... I asked for $1,000 and the Courts determined that I deserved more that that and came up with a figure of $30,000. I have never seen one penny of that award and likely may never.

kazambolt71 karma

What has been your favorite moment from the past 9 years?

AnthonyJMenendez93 karma

I would have to say, my favorite moment was receiving the ARB's Decision where for the first time, I actually felt vindicated...That was back in September 2011.

elitemom71 karma

What are the after-effects of all of this on you, personally? I can't imagine going through all that you have without developing PTSD or at least some form of anxiety disorder.

I find you and your actions inspiring and a testament to the spirit of "good" in the human race. We are bombarded with so many "bad" parts of human nature that is can really make one jaded. You literally balance perspectives and prove that there are those out there that will still do the right thing, no matter what the cost.

AnthonyJMenendez144 karma

Thank you for the very kind words. I think that I have got (self-diagnosed) PTWD... Post Traumatic Whistleblower Disorder Also, I can tell you that as a consequence I got way more grey hair and put on a few pounds..... I think I will try to blame that on my PTWD instead of getting 9 years older and a little lazier in my 40s

canuckinnyc36 karma

In business school, one of my management textbooks listed examples of unethical actions to do as an employee, which included things like stealing, falsifying reports, and whistleblowing. That absolutely shocked me. Hell, it wasn't even subtle.

In my financial accounting 101 class, the first section of the textbook and syllabus were on ethics and the importance of regulation. The prof scoffed, told us to skip it and that it wouldn't be on the exams.

This- all in a school sending 95% of it's grads to investment banks and accounting firms. It's impossible to change the current culture of the financial world. But we're dooming ourselves by not addressing this issue with the industry's future leaders.

Outside of adding more regulation (which often seems skirted), what do you think we can do to stymie rampant "questionable business practices" in the private sector?

AnthonyJMenendez58 karma

It is shocking and disturbing that a textbook would list "whistleblowing" as an unethical action. Just because companies often react as if whistleblowing were committing a crime, it does not make it so.

I tend to believe that absent effective enforcement, most companies will gravitate to abusing the rules.

I often liken it to the age old question... "If I tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"...said differently, "if a company abuses the SEC's rules, and the SEC does nothing about it, did the company even break the rules?"

crackshot876 karma

Hey Tony, firstly thanks for standing up for what is right. Very courageous to go up against a corporate monolith like Halliburton. I personally believe more whistleblowers are needed to hold these corporations to account, since we can't trust government to sadly.

My question is, what advice would you give to other potential whistleblowers to not hit the same pitfalls you did?

AnthonyJMenendez13 karma

I would tell everyone to be prepared because you will almost surely suffer some level of retaliation for standing up for what's right. In order to minimize the cost and pain, individual must be prepared and consider whether or not your allegations can be proven and that you believe you can make a difference.

Amaturus5 karma

This is amazing. I just wrote about you for an assignment in my Accounting Ethics class.

One thing I noted from the article is that you went to the SEC before you went to Haliburton's Audit Committee. Although the Audit Committee failed to keep you anonymous once you did go to them (and thus justified your lawsuit), do you think it was correct to go to an external entity before exhausting all options internally?

AnthonyJMenendez10 karma

I thought it was better to go to the SEC because I was concerned about the retaliation. As it turns out, going to Halliburton's Audit Committee was a mistake.

mb15 karma

Hey Tony, What's your reaction now that Ahmed is working for Halliburton? I understand you guys parted amicably and based upon the ProPublica piece, he has a great respect for you. Of course he doesn't have loyalties to anyone except his own family, so I guess I'm just interested in what your thoughts might be on Halliburton hiring/retaining him?

AnthonyJMenendez4 karma

I have a lot of respect for Joe. He took my case when no one else would.

kaypmger3 karma

What's your opinion on mandatory audit firm rotation? Do you think that would clear up frauds like this and in the long run provide better services?

AnthonyJMenendez7 karma

I believe mandatory audit firm rotations would improve financial reporting.

Stephtheboss3 karma

Looking back would you do the same if you knew how long the process would take. And what would you have done differently if you had the chance ?

AnthonyJMenendez3 karma

This is a very tough question to answer. I was definitely overly optimistic when this thing started. I can't say for sure, what if anything, I would do differently. Instead I would want people to know that the decision to blow the whistle could be one of the most important decisions you could ever make (so don't do it lightly).