RealTime IT News

Andersen Employees Plan Rally

Hundreds of Andersen employees will take to the streets of Boston today to try and salvage their firm's reputation in the wake of the Enron scandal.

Organizers said the noontime rally in the financial district is designed to "raise awareness of the Justice Department's unjust blanket indictment of the firm." Ultimately, they hope to get criminal charges dropped.

Similar demonstrations occurred in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. on Wednesday. At them, workers wearing T-shirts and carrying signs proclaiming "I am Arthur Andersen" said they shouldn't suffer for the actions of a few co-workers.

The auditing and consulting firm pleaded innocent yesterday to charges that it obstructed justice by shredding documents and deleting computer files related to Enron. A trial has been scheduled to begin May 6.

Andersen executives allegedly discussed via conference call a looming Securities and Exchange Commission probe into Enron last fall. Shortly after, "tons of paper" relating to the Enron audit were shipped from Anderson's office in the Enron building to its Houston facility and destroyed, the charges allege.

The fallout from the debacle has cost Andersen dearly. Several longtime clients, including banking giant BB&T have dropped the firm rather than be tainted.

So far, none of the firm's 28,000 U.S. employees have been laid off as a result of Enron, but company officials haven't ruled out future cuts.

It has also heightened awareness of accounting rules among many technology companies.