Chicago (April 26, 2002) -- As part of continuing efforts to whittle itself down to an audit only firm, Andersen said it signed a tentative deal with Robert Half International Inc. for the staffing firm to hire a "substantial majority" of partners and employees of the Big Five firm's U.S. business risk consulting practice.The deal could close as early as April 30. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Arthur Andersen’s Business Risk Consulting Services specializes in areas internal audit, technology risk consulting, and financial and commodity risk consulting. The group's employees will collectively form a new Robert Half International Inc. business unit devoted solely to advising corporations and boards on techniques to better manage business risk, according to the firm.

Separately, Andersen lawyers submitted a new proposed settlement of its criminal case to the government Wednesday, the Justice Department confirmed Thursday.

According to a New York Times report, the settlement proposal was made in a letter to Leslie Caldwell, the head of the Justice Department's Enron task force. The letter reportedly reiterated Andersen's commitment to acknowledge wrongdoing as part of a deferred- prosecution agreement, but declined certain other provisions that the government had sought. As of Thursday morning, the government had not formally responded to the proposal.

Talks between the firm and the government broke down last week, when prosecutors set a deadline for the firm to accept an offer and then withdrew their settlement offer and ended negotiations.

Andersen's trial on charges of obstruction of justice is scheduled to begin May 6.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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