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Justice Department Calls For Dismissal Of Andersen Indictment

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

25 November 2005


The US Department of Justice on Tuesday moved to dismiss the indictment against former 'Big Five' accounting firm, Arthue Andersen.

In June of this year, the US Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Arthur Andersen LLP for destroying documents in the Enron case; the accounting firm collapsed following its conviction in 2002.

The justices unanimously said that the accounting firm's conviction was improper, and that jury instructions at trial were too vague and broad for jurors to determine correctly whether Andersen obstructed justice.

Andersen's original trial revolved around advice from an in-house attorney, Nancy Temple, for employees to follow the firm's document retention policy after Enron collapsed in 2001, advice which led to the destruction of tons of Enron financial records.

SEC subpoenas arrived at Andersen on Nov. 8, 2001, and the shredding stopped. Prosecutors argued that Andersen had broken a law against "knowingly … corruptly persuading" others to destroy evidence.

Then Chief Justice, the late William Rehnquist noted that jurors were instructed to convict Andersen if the accounting firm had an "improper purpose," such as an intent to impede or subvert fact-finding in an "official proceeding." He noted jurors were instructed to convict, even if Andersen mistakenly thought it was acting legally.

In a motion filed with the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department announced that:

"The government requests that this Court remand the case to the district court to allow the district court to vacate the conviction and the government to move to dismiss the indictment with prejudice."


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