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Ebbers' financial know-how probed

'I'm a PE graduate, not an economist'

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The prosecution in the Bernie Ebbers fraud trial wheeled out an analyst yesterday who testified that the ex-WorldCom boss seemed to know a thing or two about the firm's accounting procedures.

Adam Quinton, an analyst at financial giant Merrill Lynch & Co, told the court that when Ebbers was quizzed on some fairly complex financial matters he was able to answer in a "in a reasonable amount of detail".

But while Ebbers was shown to have a handle on financial matters, Quinton also testified that former CFO Scott Sullivan usually dealt with the numbers questions, PA reports.

The analyst's testimony was part of the prosecution's case to prove that Ebbers had the financial know-how to mastermind the $11bn (£5.8bn) accounting fraud that led to the collapse of WorldCom in 2002.

Ebbers denies being involved in one of the US's biggest corporate scandals. He says he was incapable of being behind such a widespread and complex fraud.

Playing tapes of conference calls with analysts dating back to 2001/2, Ebbers is heard passing taxing financial questions to Sullivan, who last year admitted "engaging in a fraudulent scheme to conceal WorldCom's poor financial performance" and is the Government's star witness against Ebbers.

At one point, when Ebbers is asked about the US economy, he is heard saying: "...remember, I'm a PE graduate, not an economist. So I don't know that I can speak to that with any credibility or anything".

The trial is expected to last eight weeks. If found guilty, Ebbers faces up to 25 years in jail. ®

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