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DoJ zeroes in on AOL accounting practices

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The slick accounting magic by which an ISP called AOL managed to puff itself up into a thing seemingly capable of swallowing up a media behemoth like Time Warner is under investigation by the US Department of Justice (DoJ), the Associated Press reports.

The criminal inquiry is compounded with another by the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC), announced about a week ago. The prospect of a classic SEC wrist-slapping caused considerable alarm on Wall Street which punished the stock last week, and the bad-assed DoJ execs-going-to-jail business knocked the hypertrophied media conglomerate's incredible shrinking stock down an additional seven per cent on the news Wednesday.

For its part the company claims to have followed 'normally-accepted accounting standards' duly confirmed by its righteous auditor.

"As we have consistently said, our accounting is appropriate and in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles; and our outside auditors, Ernst & Young, have repeatedly confirmed that," AOL Time Warner flacks whinged in a press release.

So apparently none of this is their fault. The problem, clearly, is 'normally-accepted accounting practices' which make deceiving investors something of a latter-day commercial sacrament. ®

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