WASHINGTON – Attorney General John Ashcroft vowed Friday to continue targeting corporate wrongdoing, saying crime in the boardroom undermines the U.S. economy.
Such activity "destroys workers' income, decimates family savings" and "casts a shadow on the health and integrity and good name of American business itself," Ashcroft said. "The success of the marketplace depends on the marketplace being a location of integrity."
The attorney general spoke to several hundred federal prosecutors at a Justice Department conference, a two-day event for sen, as successes in the government's battle. He also mentioned the insider trading case against ImClone chief executive Samuel Waksal and criminal charges against top officials of Rite Aid Corp. and Adelphia Communications.
On Thursday, former WorldCom Inc. executive David Myers pleaded guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud, the first admission of guilt in the largest corporate accounting scandal in U.S. history. Myers, 44, agreed to cooperate with authorities against his former bosses and to plead guilty as early as next week to an additional charge.
Ashcroft said that while the vast majority of American businesses are run by honest men and women, there is a danger if "corporate cultures that foster criminal behavior" go unchallenged because "American markets lose integrity in the eyes of our citizens and the world."