Is it a crime to do accounting for criminals? Some would argue that accounting in itself is neutral, regardless of those accounted for. However, if that accounted are known to be ill-gotten gains, helping to keep track of them is surely ill as well. Being criminal in nature, the accounting will be ‘creative’ too, which is lying, the breaking of the Fourth Precept that safeguards truthfulness.
Someone else will do the accounting anyway? Well, that would be someone else’s choice, that creates negative karma accordingly. Why profit from ill-gotten gains? The Buddha’s guidelines on what constitutes wrong livelihood centre around the question of whether sentient beings are harmed or killed for us to make a living. Part of walking the Noble Eightfold Path is to be as many degrees of separation away from harmful occupations as we can.
‘The Accountant’ however, is as sharp a bookkeeper as he is a shooter. He cooks books and shoots crooks! With moral ambiguity, he accounts for some crooks while calling in and killing other crooks. As if to further justify his deeds, he also launders some earnings for charity. His karmic accounts are convoluted indeed, with various intense and intertwined good and evil done! This is also expressed in his chaotic life, being wanted by both cops and crooks. Despite much accounting for figures and targets, he had lost sight of purification instead of complication of his karma!
How Right Is Your Livelihood?