Greed, power and worry drove Bernard Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom Inc., to mastermind a fraud that cost investors billions of dollars, a U.S. prosecutor said in closing arguments on Wednesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Johnson told jurors that on Ebber’s watch, “WorldCom had truly become WorldCon.
“Bernie Ebbers was the leader of WorldCom and the leader of the con,” Johnson said.
The six-week trial in Manhattan federal court is to determine whether Ebbers orchestrated the $11 billion accounting scandal at WorldCom, the long-distance company he built from a small Mississippi upstart into telecommunications powerhouse.
“Ebbers faced a choice about admitting to the truth of WorldCom’s financial problems or lying to cover them up,” Johnson told jurors. “He chose to commit a crime, to cover up WorldCom’s bad business with a fraud.”
Ebbers, who testified in hiss own defense, repeatedly denied the charges, saying he was unaware of the fraud and blamed his former right-hand man and finance chief, Scott Sullivan.
Johnson told jurors that Ebbers’ lied to them. He likened Ebbers’ motivation to a “perfect storm” of corruption, saying he was driven to cover up WorldCom’s problems by greed, power and worry.