Mississippi judge bars WorldCom's former head, Andersen from destroying documents

Friday, June 28th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ A judge issued a 10-day restraining order to make sure WorldCom's former chief executive and former accountant Arthur Andersen LLP do not destroy documents related to the telecommunications company.

The restraining order issued Thursday is in addition to one filed Wednesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC order demands only that current WorldCom employees and affiliates preserve documents.

Federal investigators are scrutinizing WorldCom's accounting practices after the telecom giant said it hid $3.8 billion in expenses, a disclosure that has propelled the former telecom giant toward bankruptcy.

The court document was delivered to officials at WorldCom's Clinton headquarters along with notification for former chief executive Bernie Ebbers, although company officials have said Ebbers no longer works there. It's unlikely either has received it yet.

The doors to Arthur Andersen's downtown Jackson office were locked Thursday, preventing court officers from serving the papers, officials said.

``We have not hand delivered the order. We will continue to try to do so,'' said David Blount, a spokesman for Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark.

Clark said his office, in conjunction with Attorney General Mike Moore's office, would be ``extremely aggressive'' in ferreting out possible securities violations at WorldCom. The state offices are coordinating efforts with the SEC and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Clark said.

Clark said he did not know if any documents had already been destroyed at WorldCom but he has not received any reports indicating they had.

WorldCom's former chief financial officer Scott Sullivan, who was fired this week, was also named in the 10-day restraining order. The order also named current WorldCom directors, employees, agents and consultants, including current auditor KPMG LLP. David Myers, a former senior vice president, was also named.