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WorldCom's Ebbers testifies he did not understand accounting, finance

[JURIST] Former WorldCom [JURIST Hot Topic news archive] chief Bernard Ebbers [Wikipedia profile] testified Monday at his corporate fraud trial, now in its sixth week in Manhattan federal court. Ebbers said on the stand that he was unschooled in accounting and finance and that he left money decisions to his finance chief, Scott Sullivan. Ebbers is accused of orchestrating an $11 billion fraud which led to the largest bankruptcy in US history. "I know what I don't know," said Ebbers, "I don't, to this day, know technology. I don't know finance and accounting." Ebbers, a onetime basketball coach, characterized his role as being more of a "coach" for the company. Ebbers' testimony focused on his poor grades in school and his lack of knowledge about matters of finance and bookkeeping. "The closest thing I've ever had to an accounting course is a preliminary course in economics," he said. Sullivan is the chief witness for the prosecution against Ebbers. Sullivan previously testified that he was ordered by Ebbers to commit fraud by making false reports of revenue and earnings numbers to Wall Street. Having Ebbers take the stand is a risky move, as it now opens up Ebbers to cross-examination. The New York Times reports on the strategy of having Ebbers testify [subscription required]. Reuters has more on today's testimony.

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