Thursday, March 21, 2002

Andersen employees stand by their firm




The Associated Press

        CHICAGO — With their firm's survival on the line and once-sterling reputation now the butt of jokes, Arthur Andersen LLP and its 28,000 U.S. employees are fighting back with protest rallies, lobbying campaigns and newspaper ads.

        The new feistiness was on full display Wednesday when hundreds of employees clad in black-and-orange T-shirts declaring “I am Arthur Andersen” boisterously demonstrated outside the Houston courthouse where the firm pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice charges stemming from its shredding of documents related to its audit of now-bankrupt Enron Corp.

        Similar rallies are scheduled for today in Philadelphia and on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, which Andersen employees nationwide have been bombarding this week with letters, e-mails and phone calls.

        The show of anger and pride comes with executives urging employees — until now largely silent — in internal company e-mails to express their rage to their congressmen and the Justice Department.

        Edward Ketz, associate professor of accounting at Pennsylvania State University, called it “a last desperate effort in the P.R. game” to get Congress to step in and keep Andersen from going out of business.

        “I think the story of Enron has resonated basically to the bone for so many Americans that they want justice done,” Mr. Ketz said. “Rightly or wrongly they are looking at Andersen in part for that justice because Andersen obviously had an audit failure here in approving things that shouldn't have been done.”

       



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