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ISSUE 119 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/11/2005

Buntrock, A History

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor


Friday, November 11, 2005

Buntrock, A History

On Aug. 26, Waste Management Inc., one of the world’s largest waste management corporations, agreed to pay $26.8 million to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit filed in March 2002. The lawsuit accused the company’s five figureheads of “perpetrating a massive financial fraud lasting more than five years.” Before Enron’s shakedown in 2001, this accounting scandal was the most shocking in U.S. big business history. Why is this important? It is important because Dean Buntrock was the leader of this band of fraudulent miscreants.

During the prospective student season, horde after curious horde of young students walk through Buntrock Commons admiring both the beauty and importance of the building. It is a true “model for student unions in the 21st century” and without it we would look far less impressive as an institution. But, Buntrock, A History

On Aug. 26, Waste Management Inc., one of the world’s largest waste management corporations, agreed to pay $26.8 million to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit filed in March 2002. The lawsuit accused the company’s five figureheads of “perpetrating a massive financial fraud lasting more than five years.” Before Enron’s shakedown in 2001, this accounting scandal was the most shocking in U.S. big business history. Why is this important? It is important because Dean Buntrock was the leader of this band of fraudulent miscreants.

During the prospective student season, horde after curious horde of young students walk through Buntrock Commons admiring both the beauty and importance of the building. It is a true “model for student unions in the 21st century” and without it we would look far less impressive as an institution. But, what happens when parents or students ask the tour guide who Buntrock really is?

Dean Buntrock was the founder, chairman and chief executive of Waste Management, Inc. He graduated from St. Olaf College in 1955 and built Waste Management from the ground up, successfully creating a multi-billion dollar corporation and an impressive resume of business and philanthropic endeavors. The truth is, however, that he is a fraud that gave us $26 million to build a student center so he could get a tax break.

On March 26, 2002, the SEC filed a complaint accusing Buntrock and four of his cohorts at Waste Management of engaging in a “systematic scheme to falsify and misrepresent Waste Management’s financial results and thereby enrich themselves” from 1992 to 1997 (Litigation Release No. 17435; www.sec.org). The complaint included, but was not limited to, infractions such as avoiding to report depreciation expenses, failure to report expenses at all, and establishing “inflated environmental reserves” or, in other words, money laundering: “[The] defendants used netting to eliminate approximately $490 million in current period operating expenses and accumulated prior period accounting misstatements by offsetting them against unrelated one-time gains on the sale or exchange of assets” (SEC).

Ostensibly, Buntrock used negligent accounting methods to embezzle millions of dollars. The report pointed fingers at Buntrock, who was “the driving force behind the fraud.” According to the report, he set earnings targets and was the spokesman who announced Waste Management’s falsified records. The case, growing exponentially more costly each year, was settled in August without an admission of guilt – or an account of innocence. According to court documents, Waste Management paid $17.1 million on behalf of Buntrock, while he paid $2.3 million out of his own pocket.

When this SEC suit was initially filed, a Manitou Messenger Opinions piece questioned the influence of accepting this donation: “What kind of message is the school sending its current students who frequent the Buntrock student center daily? The message that it’s okay to graduate, go out, become driving forces of fraud, and get rich, and, by the way, don’t forget to write the school a check. The school’s non-committal approach to the subject can be construed as the school giving its approval to such behavior” (April 12, 2002).

As classes graduate, incoming classes are unaware of their true Ole history. So, next time you walk through Buntrock Commons, think about where it came from and file your taxes on time.

Dean Buntrock was the founder, chairman and chief executive of Waste Management, Inc. He graduated from St. Olaf College in 1955 and built Waste Management from the ground up, successfully creating a multi-billion dollar corporation and an impressive resume of business and philanthropic endeavors. The truth is, however, that he is a fraud that gave us $26 million to build a student center so he could get a tax break.

On March 26, 2002, the SEC filed a complaint accusing Buntrock and four of his cohorts at Waste Management of engaging in a “systematic scheme to falsify and misrepresent Waste Management’s financial results and thereby enrich themselves” from 1992 to 1997 (Litigation Release No. 17435; www.sec.org). The complaint included, but was not limited to, infractions such as avoiding to report depreciation expenses, failure to report expenses at all, and establishing “inflated environmental reserves” or, in other words, money laundering: “[The] defendants used netting to eliminate approximately $490 million in current period operating expenses and accumulated prior period accounting misstatements by offsetting them against unrelated one-time gains on the sale or exchange of assets” (SEC).

Ostensibly, Buntrock used negligent accounting methods to embezzle millions of dollars. The report pointed fingers at Buntrock, who was “the driving force behind the fraud.” According to the report, he set earnings targets and was the spokesman who announced Waste Management’s falsified records. The case, growing exponentially more costly each year, was settled in August without an admission of guilt – or an account of innocence. According to court documents, Waste Management paid $17.1 million on behalf of Buntrock, while he paid $2.3 million out of his own pocket.

When this SEC suit was initially filed, a Manitou Messenger Opinions piece questioned the influence of accepting this donation: “What kind of message is the school sending its current students who frequent the Buntrock student center daily? The message that it’s okay to graduate, go out, become driving forces of fraud, and get rich, and, by the way, don’t forget to write the school a check. The school’s non-committal approach to the subject can be construed as the school giving its approval to such behavior” (April 12, 2002).

As classes graduate, incoming classes are unaware of their true Ole history. So, next time you walk through Buntrock Commons, think about where it came from and file your taxes on time.





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