Podgor [Georgia State]: Testimony Begins in Ebbers Trial

Ellen S. Podgor, Georgia State University College of Law:

"According to the Wall Street Journal, the first two witnesses testified in the trial of Bernie Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom Inc. These two witnesses provided background information, something that is necessary when dealing with a complicated case that has charges of "conspiracy, fraud and making false filings with the" SEC. The Wall Street Journal states:

"Douglas Webster, a group vice president at MCI, and Adam Quinton, chairman of Merrill Lynch & Co.'s research recommendations committee, served largely as expert witnesses. Mr. Webster, who joined MCI in 1986 and went to WorldCom in 1998 when it acquired MCI, explained the technology and history behind the company and the telecom industry overall."
But witness Adam Quinton also appears to be setting the groundwork for the upcoming testimony of former chief financial officer Scott Sullivan, a key witness in this case.  The WSJ reports here:
"In court Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Johnson quickly steered Mr. Webster to line costs, which the government alleges were manipulated to inflate WorldCom's earnings. Line costs, or payments to other carriers to initiate or terminate a call locally, were WorldCom's largest expense, followed by selling, general and administrative costs, said Mr. Webster."
One of the truly difficult tasks prosecutors have in presenting white collar cases to juries is simplifying the language and concepts to a level so that jurors who may have no connection with the financial world can understand the essence of the alleged fraud." [January 27, 2005: White Collar Crime Blog has the post.]

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