The following is the text of a statement issued by Arthur Andersen LLP on Saturday after a federal jury in Houston convicted the accounting firm of obstruction of justice for trying to thwart a government investigation into Enron:
Today's verdict is wrong. In fairness to the jury, they were not permitted to know the full truth about what happened last fall as a result of the Justice Departments actions during this trial.
Arthur Andersen is planning to appeal the conviction based on flawed jury instructions and erroneous evidentiary rulings that precluded Andersen from presenting its entire defense.
The reality here is that this verdict represents only a technical conviction based on the government's theory of prosecution, any accounting firm or other business today could face a similar punishment for discarding documents.
By this standard, any company could be prosecuted for following standard document disposal practices, before receiving a subpoena or even an informal request for documents from a third party, even when no person involved in the matter believed that anything they were doing was wrong.
It is clear that the government failed to uphold its moral responsibility to the public by indicting and prosecuting a firm of 26,000 innocent people that self-reported its findings, fully cooperated with the Department of Justice, the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), and Congress, and worked in good faith to find a solution that would have prevented this trial.
Given these circumstances, there is no rationale for indicting a cooperating Arthur Andersen and destroying the firm as we knew it.