|Arthur Andersen LLP
|Chicago, IL U.S.A.
Arthur Andersen LLP, a Chicago-based company, was one of the "big five" accounting firms until it was prosecuted and convicted of obstruction of justice for destroying documents for its client Enron Corp . The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the conviction, but Andersen did not return as an accounting firm. The company's consultancy arm, Andersen Consulting, broke off and later renamed itself Accenture, remaining a profitable enterprise.
Arthur Andersen was Enron's accountant before the energy-trading company collapsed in 2001. In June 2002, a federal jury in Houston convicted the accounting firm of obstruction of justice for destroying Enron-related documents after being notified of a federal investigation into accounting irregularities and fraud inside the energy company.
David B. Duncan, lead partner on the Enron account, was fired for shredding the documents. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and cooperated with the prosecution of his former employer. Arthur Andersen was fined $500,000 and put on probation for five years.
Arthur Andersen appealed and the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction, ruling that the trial judge erred by giving the jury instructions that did not specify that prosecutors had to prove Arthur Andersen knew it was breaking the law. The Justice Department did not retry the case.
Duncan was later allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and his conviction was also overturned. .
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