PracticeAccounting FirmsAndersen conviction still likely despite delay

Andersen conviction still likely despite delay

Reports from the US suggest rapidly disintegrating firm Andersen will be convicted on obstruction of justice charges, following a week of deliberation.

Yesterday, in Houston, jurors asked the judge if it was possible to convict the firm without laying the blame at one individuals feet, suggesting the majority of jurors view the firm as guilty.

In a note to judge Melinda Harmon, the jury said: ‘If each of us believes that one Andersen agent acted knowingly and with a corrupt intent, is it for all of us to believe it was the same agent?’ Harmon said she would have to review case law before giving a decision on the matter.

This is despite former Andersen lead auditor David Duncan admitting that he ordered the destruction of documents relating to Enron.

Andersen continued to protest its innocence but said the news did not look good on the surface, although it added that jurors were still sorting through the evidence.

A day earlier jurors told the court they had not been able to reach a unanimous decision. Pressure is now on the team to reach a verdict and prevent a mistrial.

Meanwhile Washington Post said an inability to reach a verdict would be humiliating to the government. It commented: ‘What the (US) Justice Department failed to notice was that it had put Andersen in a position where it had nothing to lose by fighting back.’

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