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Chief beancounter gets five years for WorldCom fraud

'Regrets', I've had a few, but then again...

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Scott Sullivan - the beancounter who fingered Bernie Ebbers for the $11bn (£5.8bn) WorldCom fraud - has been sentenced to five years in jail for his part in the monster con.

The former financial boss of WorldCom had already pleaded guilty to his part in the conspiracy and his testimony helped nail Ebbers - the WorldCom chief exec who masterminded the US's biggest corporate fraud.

Dishing out his punishment yesterday US District judge Barbara Jones described Sullivan as "the architect of the fraud at WorldCom" although prosecutors acknowledged that Ebbers' conviction would not have been secured without Sullivan's testimony.

When Sullivan took the stand in February he told the court: "I falsified financial statements of the company, made adjustments to revenue for the purpose of meeting analyst expectations."

Asked who else took part he replied: "Bernie [Ebbers], David Myers, Buddy Yates, Betty Vinson, Troy Normand."

He told how Ebbers was eager to hit high growth rates and recalled telling Ebbers that the only way this could be done was by manipulating the figures.

Said Sullivan: "I told Bernie, 'This isn't right.'"

Ebbers replied: "We have to hit our numbers," Sullivan said.

Speaking yesterday Sullivan told the court: "Every day I regret what happened at WorldCom. I violated the trust placed in me. My actions are inexcusable.

"I chose the wrong road and in the face of intense pressure I turned away from the truth. I ask for leniency so that the consequences of my behaviour do not fall on my wife and daughter," reports the International Herald Tribune.

Last month Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in chokey for orchestrating the world's biggest securities fraud at WorldCom and looks set to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Ebbers - who wept in court as the sentence was handed down - was told that he had made WorldCom "become synonymous with fraud".

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