PracticeAuditAndersen to appeal guilty verdict

Andersen to appeal guilty verdict

Andersen is planning to appeal against the guilty verdict handed down by a Houston court at the weekend, insisting that the verdict was 'wrong' and that it had not sought to obstruct a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into the Enron collapse by destroying documents.

The firm, which has lost most of its major clients and many of its staff since it was indicted earlier this year said it would appeal ‘based on flawed jury instructions and erroneous evidentiary rulings that precluded Andersen from presenting its entire defense’.

In a statement issued within hours of the verdict, the firm said: ‘The reality here is that this verdict represents only a technical conviction based on the government’s theory of prosecution, any accounting firm or other business today could face a similar punishment for discarding documents.

‘By this standard, any company could be prosecuted for following standard document disposal practices, before receiving a subpoena or even an informal request for documents from a third party, even when no person involved in the matter believed that anything they were doing was wrong.’

The firm also went on the offensive, criticising the US Justice Department for pursuing it at a time when it was cooperating fully.

‘It is clear that the government failed to uphold its moral responsibility to the public by indicting and prosecuting a firm of 26,000 innocent people that self-reported its findings, fully cooperated with the Department of Justice, the SEC, and Congress, and worked in good faith to find a solution that would have prevented this trial.

‘Given these circumstances, there is no rationale for indicting a cooperating Arthur Andersen and destroying the firm as we knew it.’

Sentencing is expected in October though Andersen is expected to cease auditing corporate accounts by the end of August, when a formal judgement of conviction is likely to be entered.

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