Qwest denies report of Justice Department criminal probe

Friday, July 5th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Qwest Communications International denied a published report Friday that it is the subject of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Citing unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal reported that in addition to an ongoing regulatory probe into its accounting practices, Qwest is under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Denver and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Officials with the Denver-based telecommunications company balked at the report.

``We have no reason to believe that we are the subject of any investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice,'' said Drake S. Tempest, Qwest executive vice president and general counsel. ``It's outrageous that we would learn about such an investigation through the media. We have disclosed everything asked of us and have cooperated fully with the Securities Exchange Commission and Congress.''

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Denver declined to comment to the Journal, and the report said the extent of the criminal investigation was unknown.

In the past year, Qwest has faced a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into its accounting practices, a downgrade of its credit rating to junk status and a sinking stock price. Longtime chief executive officer Joseph P. Nacchio resigned last month.

Qwest is the local phone company for 14 states extending from Minnesota west to Washington and southwest to Arizona and New Mexico.