James Koenig, former CFO of Waste Management, Inc., was accused of falsifying accounts while engaging in “massive financial fraud” totaling $1.7 billion between 1992 and 1997. The company’s value plunged $6 billion when the fraud was discovered, leading to one of the largest financial scandals in US corporate history.

The Focal Point’s Role

Over the course of six months, The Focal Point worked as a team with SEC attorneys to explore key themes and insights and to develop a storyline. With a thorough understanding of what the jury needed to comprehend, we devised a three-pronged plan to communicate a compelling argument that included teaching accounting principles, developing a story structure, and coaching both attorneys and experts. Specifically, The Focal Point created well over 100 graphics including tutorials for experts, visual analogies to simplify complex accounting processes, and powerful illustrations that contrasted what should have been done with what Mr. Koenig actually did with respect to these processes.


On June 29, 2006, the jury found Mr. Koenig liable for all 60 violations—a huge victory for the SEC. As the first billion-dollar-plus financial fraud case they had ever taken on, it was the largest allegation of fraud ever brought by the government when it was filed in March 2002.


US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago, IL)

The Focal Point’s Client


US Securities and Exchange Commission

Luis Mejia
John Worland
Robert Pommer
Richard Skaff