Called to Account

Guilty of obstruction, Arthur Andersen becomes the first courtroom casualty of the Enron collapse

Accounting firm Arthur Andersen had already been found guilty in the court of public opinion, and paid a heavy penalty. Clients deserted; employees fled. In fact the Chicago firm was barely alive, but one question remained: What would its epitaph be, the lesson for others? An answer came last Saturday, when a Houston jury found Andersen guilty of obstructing justice. It provided a moment of vindication for investors who lost more than $60 billion in the spectacular collapse of Enron, whose books had been audited by Andersen. But the verdict held a twist: at first the case seemed to hinge on...

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