PracticeAccounting FirmsBerardino accuses US prosecutors of ‘over-reaching’

Berardino accuses US prosecutors of 'over-reaching'

Jo Berardino, managing partner at crisis stricken Andersen, has described the US indictment of his firm on charges of 'obstruction of justice' as 'over-reaching on the part of prosecutors'.

The indictment, issue last night, named Andersen’s London office as the location for some of the shredding of Enron documents.

Andersen in the UK has moved quickly to say the shredding in London was carried out by three US staff on secondment.

In his full statement Berardino, speaking from Geneva, said: ‘Today, the United States Department of Justice has indicted Arthur Andersen LLP, a member firm in Andersen Worldwide SC, in connection with the destruction of documents related to Enron Corp.

‘We are appalled by this news. This action will cause uncertainty for the clients and people of our US member firm, and appears to be the result of over-reaching on the part of prosecutors. It does not recognize the steps taken by Arthur Andersen LLP to investigate and address issues referred to in the U.S. indictment nor the broader actions Arthur Andersen LLP has taken in response to Enron.

‘An indictment in the United States is an allegation, not a conviction. Arthur Andersen LLP has indicated that it will vigorously defend itself against these charges.

‘The non-US member firms of the Andersen Worldwide network provide employment to 60,000 people in 83 countries outside the United States. These member firms have a heritage of respect and leadership in their local markets. They are evaluating the implications of these developments and considering a number of options to address the concerns of their clients.

‘Arthur Andersen LLP has provided certain requested assurances to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commission has announced that it “will continue to accept financial statements audited by Andersen” “so long as Andersen continues to be in a position to provide those assurances.”‘

‘Andersen Worldwide S.C., based in Geneva, Switzerland, is a federation of professional services firms operating in 84 countries. Its member firms provide audit, audit-related, tax, legal, corporate finance and business consulting services.’

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