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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Beleaguered carrier WorldCom Inc confirmed yesterday that restatements of its earlier accounts are likely to top $9bn.

The admission came as the US Securities and Exchange Commission expanded its civil complaint against the carrier, which is currently in Chapter 11. The SEC is adding claims that WorldCom violated antifraud provisions of the securities act of 1933 "in connection with several securities offerings during the fraud," and that it "violated the internal controls and books and records provision" of the securities act of 1934.

The SEC said that the amended complaint broadened its charges against the company to allege WorldCom had misled investors from "at least as early as 1999," and that during that period WorldCom has acknowledged it overstated its accounts by approximately $9bn. The amended complaint has been filed with WorldCom's consent.

WorldCom first admitted in June that it had overstated its accounts to the tune of $3.8bn. It went into chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, and later admitted further mis-statements of $3.8bn.

Yesterday, Clinton, Mississippi-based WorldCom admitted that further restatements were likely. It said that in settlement discussions with the SEC it had advised the agency that "based on very preliminary reviews of past accounting, it expects an additional restatement of earnings, which when added to WorldCom's past restatements, could total in excess of $9bn."

In its statement yesterday, WorldCom insisted that the restatements of past accounting had no impact on its ability to serve customers or to emerge from bankruptcy protection, which it expects to happen in the middle of next year.

The SEC's action came a day after the bankruptcy examiner appointed by the courts, former US attorney general Dick Thornburgh, delivered his initial report into the fall of WorldCom. In the report Thornburgh said he and his team believed the investigation would reveal "improper and unsupported adjustments that go beyond the more than $7bn in adjustments already restated by the company."

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