WorldCom’s Ebbers proclaims innocence to US courts

4 Mar 2004

Former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers has pleaded not guilty to marshalling the US$11bn accounting fraud that led to the collapse of the former telecoms giant.

After the US Government filed a number of charges against Ebbers on Tuesday, he entered not guilty pleas for each of them – fraud, conspiracy and making false statements.

Former WorldCom chief financial officer Scott Sullivan entered a guilty plea to the charge of conspiring to falsify the company’s accounts and he will be the chief witness against Ebbers.

Judge Barbara Jones set bail at US$10m with the trial due to start on 9 November.

A successful conviction of the former telecoms svengali is seen as crucial to supporting the Bush Administration’s claims of being tough on white-collar crime. “America’s economic strength depends on the integrity of the marketplace,” US attorney general Ashcroft intoned on Tuesday.

Under the leadership of former Compaq chief Michael Capellas, MCI, the renamed WorldCom, is shortly expected to emerge from bankruptcy after striking a deal with creditors and completing a restructuring programme.

MCI employs more than 100 people in Ireland and has offices in all the main cities. Customers include Aer Lingus, Fyffes and An Post.

By Brian Skelly