Via the CNN
Arthur Andersen conviction overturned
Jury instructions too vague, high court rules
Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Posted: 10:28 AM EDT (1428 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned the conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm for destroying Enron Corp.-related documents before the energy giant’s collapse.
In a unanimous opinion, justices said the former Big Five accounting firm’s June 2002 conviction was improper.
The court said the jury instructions at trial were too vague and broad for jurors to determine correctly whether Andersen obstructed justice.
“The jury instructions here were flawed in important respects,” Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court.
The ruling is a setback for the Bush administration, which made prosecution of white-collar criminals a high priority following accounting scandals at major corporations.
After Enron’s 2001 collapse, the Justice Department went after Andersen first.
Enron crashed in December 2001, putting more than 5,000 employees out of work, just six weeks after the energy company revealed massive losses and writedowns.
Subsequently, as the Securities and Exchange Commission began looking into Enron’s convoluted finances, Andersen put in practice a policy calling for destroying unneeded documentation.
Government attorneys argued that Andersen should be held responsible for instructing its employees to “undertake an unprecedented campaign of document destruction.”
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” at the E Street Cinema, and I must say that this ruling is completely bogus. Not only was Arthur Andersen complicannt in the destruction of the files, they signed off on cooking Enron’s books.
For Enron to get away with what it did there needed to people high up at Arthur Andersen to okay the dodgy procedures Enron followed. The claim that the papers were shredded because they were not going to be used or related to the case is the most abhorrent. The million dollar kickbacks that were given to top Arthur Andersen execs makes this ruling further off the mark.
Time for Double Jeopardy Alex!