When GE Got it Wrong: Glaring Mistake in GE’s 10 K for FY 2015

On February 26, GE filed its 10 K. Two documents were filed by GE, one in the html format and the other in XBRL, as required by SEC. In the normal course of things, both documents should have told the same story. But then GE got it wrong.

Tucked away in the footnotes of the 10 K is an item that has caught the imagination of each and every Presidential hopeful, Democrat and Republican.  It is the amount of money the company earned overseas and chose to keep overseas. It is the money that every candidate wants companies to bring back into the system, to the US.

In the html filing, GE says that the amount is US $ 104 billion.

In its XBRL filing, GE says it is US $ 104 million.

In its defence, GE will tell you that they got the units wrong. That is simply unacceptable. Especially because they made the same mistake in their 10 K of FY 2014. And FY 2013 too.  

At a time, when SEC is said to be planning to phase out all forms of filings of the Ks and the Qs except in XBRL, imagine the confusion it would have caused in the marketplace. Imagine the lot of companies who would have been scraping the data off the XBRL filings, they would have picked up the number as $ 104 million. While those reading the numbers off the html document, as the WSJ had done when doing the