Don Van Landingham’s Corruptacy
What inspired you to write this book?
People in general and the news media have long looked on accountants as humans without feelings, wearing eye shades and being parasites on society. When, finally, there was a movie and a book about accountants (The Accountant) he was featured as having a cape (campy, but still a cape) and driving a car best described as a bat-mobile. I wanted to describe an accountant as a vibrant member of society, having a family and experiencing success, failure, fear and courage like most people do in all walks of life. In other words, I wanted to display an accountant as a regular guy.
How and why did you end up writing a drama from an accountant’s point of view?
A lot of the events in the book (a novel) were real life experiences in that they happened to me, so a short answer is I wrote it because of my life experiences. In order to make the book super-interesting I inserted certain drama that didn’t happen, but look, when you read a book or see a movie that is labeled real life, there are always some events that are blown up to make the story more interesting.
How did you go about making bankruptcy fraud exciting?
Actually, bankruptcy fraud investigations are no more exciting than any other fraud investigations. In my career I found fraud in all three arms of government (Federal, State and local governments) as well as in “for profit” businesses and non-profit organizations. Most people who have had any experience with bankruptcy cringe when they hear the word. Debtors hate it because their ability to charge anything and everything has been taken away. Creditors hate it because their ability to just go get what they sold someone who won’t pay has been taken away by the courts. In Corruptacy, I hope people will thrill at the notion that someone who has stolen funds that belong to debtors and creditor alike are getting their just deserts.
What are some big sources of financial corruption in American society and how can we combat them?
I think the biggest source of corruption today are the many politicians who get to Washington (or their state capital) and finally, at the end of their terms when they are either finally defeated at the polls or retire, come home a rich man or woman. That sort of sets the tone for other frauds because people look at those blood suckers and reason that if it’s all right for them to pull strings to get rich then why not me? I believe that term limits would curtail most of this abuse.
How ultimately, can we create a more ethical and transparent society with less fraud?
I think it starts in the home. If Junior sees Dad cutting corners to get what he doesn’t deserve, then Junior has learned a life-long lesson that will be hard to eradicate. Ultimately, Junior will pay a hard price (and maybe Dad will too) for his misguidance.
Do you think solutions can come from the private sector or will it take more regulations, or a change of cultural paradigms and values (or all three)?
The real change has got to come from a change of behavior as you describe cultural paradigms and values. You can have all the regulations you want but humans find away around them. You can install the greatest system of internal control for businesses, but someone will ultimately find a loophole. As a society, people will have to have a change of heart. I remember back during WW2, even crooks and the underworld put aside their greed to assist in the war effort. I’m not suggesting we need a catastrophic event to occur, but it seems like when those events do occur, people put aside their prejudices and selfishness and work for the common good.
Why did you choose to end the story on a note of hope? Do you see hope in our culture and financial systems?
My grown children call me the eternal optimist. I won’t deny it. I am. I believe in America. I believe in man’s right to choose. I also believe there is a streak of “good” in most people. Right now, with the pandemic, the wide split between those on the Right and those on the Left, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s there and it will be here. I think the right question is, will we be ready when it gets here?