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