Brazilian Bank Shareholders File RICO Action Against Andersen Worldwide


New York (Sept. 3, 2002) -- Shareholders of Brazilian bank Banco Excel Economico SA filed a lawsuit in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Arthur Andersen Worldwide, attorneys for the plaintiffs said.


The suit seeks, among other things, damages of at least $350 million and treble damages for Andersen's role in fraudulently wresting control of the bank away from the plaintiffs.


The complaint alleges that Andersen violated the RICO statutes -- its partners participated in a number of worldwide criminal conspiracies to provide fraudulent accounting and auditing services, obstructed justice, engaged in extortion, and other such behavior, all in an effort to enrich themselves. The complaint also alleges that Andersen encouraged its partners and employees to become employed in senior positions by its clients, so that the pattern of deception could be continued.


A statement about the complaint by the plaintiff's attorney, New York law firm Srour Fischer & Mandell, says that the suit stems from an alleged conspiracy between Andersen and Spanish bank Banco Bilboa Viscaya Argentaria S/A, which sought to acquire Excel. The plaintiffs charge that Andersen, working as BBVA's auditor, fraudulently undervalued the bank, and worked in concert with BBVA and senior officers of the Central Bank of Brazil to strong-arm the plaintiffs to sell the bank.


According to the complaint, once the sale was complete, Andersen placed its own employees in management positions and its valuation of the bank rose dramatically, but the plaintiffs were not compensated appropriately.


-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff


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