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Andersen Convicted of Obstructing Justice

BY Admin  June 15, 2002 at 12:50 PM EST

In its verdict, the 12-member jury sided with prosecutors, who said Andersen shredded thousands of Enron documents in an attempt to impede a federal investigation of the energy giant’s accounting practices.

Andersen lawyers said the documents’ destruction was part of the company’s routine housekeeping system.

Andersen defense attorney Rusty Hardin said the company will appeal the ruling.

The jury’s verdict came after 10 days of deliberation and after U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon’s ruling Friday that jurors didn’t have to agree on who committed a crime as long as they all believed someone in the company “acted knowingly and with corrupt intent.”

That decision came after jurors declared they were deadlocked Wednesday, but were ordered back into deliberations.

Asked Saturday whether they agreed the same Andersen employee had acted criminally, all 12 jurors said yes. That person was not identified.

The 89-year-old accounting firm faces up to five years of probation and a $500,000 fine. Harmon is scheduled to hand down the company’s sentence Oct. 11.

Andersen could also be barred from auditing publicly traded companies and fined up to twice any gains or damages the court determines the firm’s actions caused.

The company has already lost hundreds of clients since it was indicted in March. The firm still faces civil lawsuits and possible punishment by the Securities and Exchange Commission.