A federal appeals court upheld the conviction and 25-year prison sentence handed to former WorldCom Inc. chief executive Bernard Ebbers a year ago.
Ebbers was found guilty of securities fraud in March 2005, and sentenced later that summer for his role in overseeing an $11 billion accounting fraud at the telecommunications company. He had appealed on a number of arguments, saying that the court should have forced the government to grant immunity to several prospective defense witnesses, that WorldCom's accounting entries complied with accepted standards and that the court wrongly instructed the jury that it could convict Ebbers on the basis of what was termed "conscious avoidance" of the massive fraud.
Writing for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals , Judge Ralph Winters said that while the sentence was long for a white-collar crime, it was not unreasonable. Ebbers has remained free during his appeal.
Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission also announced that it had settled civil actions against two more former WorldCom financial executives, including the company's former chief financial officer Scott Sullivan.
The SEC will waive nearly $15 million in payments from Sullivan, saying that he has demonstrated an inability to pay. Sullivan is serving a five-year prison term for fraud and has already agreed to surrender an under-construction Florida mansion and $200,000 in a retirement fund.
The SEC also brought and settled a fraud case against former director of property accounting Mark Abide, who agreed to pay a total of nearly $130,000 for his role making misleading bookkeeping entries.
Previously on WebCPA:
Ebbers Appeals Conviction (Oct. 3, 2005)
WorldCom's No. 2 Gets Five Years (Aug. 12, 2005)
WorldCom's Ebbers Sentenced to 25 Years (July 13, 2005)
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