Tuesday, March 1, 2005

"I Know What I Don't Know"

As promised this past Friday, Bernie Ebbers was called to the witness stand on Monday to present his variant on the "honest-but-ignorant CEO" defense, asserting that he knew little about technology and apparently even less about accounting.  Ebbers testified that his grades in college were not very good, and that at WorldCom he was the company's "coach" much like he had been a high school coach before entering the backwaters of the telecom world.  Ebbers denied ever being advised by former CFO Scott Sullivan that the accounting entries were incorrect, and noted that Sullivan had an "uncanny knowledge" of accounting.  The defense gambit is risky, and to this point Ebbers appears to be comfortable on the witness stand, but the cross-examination may tell another story. Articles from the Wall Street Journal (here) and AP (here) discuss Ebbers' first day of testimony. (ph)

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