Former WorldCom Chief Claims Tech Ignorance

WorldCom has been found guilty of the biggest accounting fraud in corporate history, but former chairman Bernie Ebbers says he doesn't know technology or accounting. Yeah, right.

March 10, 2005

1 Min Read
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The defense focused on Ebbers' humble beginnings, including his stints as a milkman, bouncer and phys ed teacher. "It was mostly about getting along with people," Ebbers testified. This sexagenarian good ol' boy says he barely knows a debit from a credit, yet he managed to mastermind dozens of acquisitions in building a small long-distance company into a telecom giant worth $180 billion at its peak. Some people skills.

Meantime, former WorldCom financial chief Scott Sullivan, who has pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges and agreed to cooperate with the government, testified that Ebbers was a hands-on manager with a command of accounting and financial details. Sullivan said Ebbers was fully aware of WorldCom's cooked books. The company, now out of bankruptcy under the MCI name, has a deal to be acquired by Verizon but is still being pursued by Qwest.

A jury started deliberations last week. If Ebbers is found guilty, he'll be applying his people skills to a whole new crowd.

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