Bad Left Hook: What accounting fraud can tell us about boxing

UC accounting professor shares research takeaways for understanding legal complications

What can boxing fans following the story of a fledgling fight promoter’s fallout with the International Boxing Federation learn from accounting research? Apparently, that rationalization is an observable — if not quantifiable — aspect of fraud.

Boxing news outlet Bad Left Hook recently sought the expertise of Associate Accounting Professor Natalia Mintchik, PhD, CPA, and her coauthor Jennifer Riley, PhD, CPA, from the University of Nebraska Omaha, to help make the connection between their 2019 paper “Rationalizing Fraud” and the recent legal battles between fight promoter Triller and Australian boxer George Kambosos Jr.

woman with short dark hair wearing a blouse and black blazer smiles for a headshot against a grey background

Natalia Mintchik, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of accounting at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

In the in-depth interview, Mintchik’s coauthor cites the iconic fraud triangle, which originally was developed by Donald Cressey and Edwin Sutherland in 1951 and has endured in accounting theory and practice to this day. The three sides of the triangle are perceived pressure, perceived opportunity and rationalization.

"The framework (of our research) was observed based on interviews with those that were caught stealing funds,” said Mintchik.

Mintchik mentioned that Cressey himself wrote that too rigid controls in place could hamper the business, and that a company’s sole focus on implementing controls would not prevent fraud.

“The way to go is to focus on culture and inner awareness of management, and the subtle impact of the culture that management creates,” said Mintchik.

“Rationalizing Fraud” was published in 2019 in The CPA JournalRead the full paper and read or listen to the interview with Bad Left Hook’s John Hansen.

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