Anne Sorenson, an auditor for Stuart and Cram, is currently assigned to the audit of Amgen, Inc., a biotechnology company based in Thousand Oaks, California. The audit has gone well, but today Sorenson over heard a very exciting piece of information. Amgen has just completed a series of tests with mice related to the ob gene and leptin, the protein produced by the gene.
During these tests, obese mice lost about 40% of their body weight after only a month of daily injections of leptin. With trials on humans ready to begin within a year, the promise of a cure for obesity seems hopeful. That evening, Sorenson talks to her parents over the phone. She is so excited about this finding that she tells her parents about the "potential" cure for obesity. After getting off the phone, she tells her roommate about her interesting day, when she realizes that she is divulging confidential client information. Her roommate, a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch, is excited about the information and wants to recommend that all her investment customers purchase Amgen stock before the information is public and the stock price goes up. Sorenson wonders about what she has just done.
a. Has Sorenson violated the Professional Code of Conduct? Explain your answer.
b. Would your evaluation of Sorenson's behavior change if her roommate was an artist who was uninterested in the stock market or if her parents did not act on the information to purchase Amgen stock? Why?