Scott Sullivan the former WorldCom finance chief, admitted lying to the board and an internal auditor during the $11 billion accounting fraud.
On the first day of his cross-examination yesterday Mr Sullivan conceded that he had lied more than a dozen times about the financial health of the company, whose profits were deteriorating between 2000 and 2002.
Reid Weingarten, for Bernie Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom, drew an admission that he misled the audit committee in 2002. “If you believe something is in your interest, you are willing and able to lie to accomplish it, isn’t that right?” he asked.
Mr Sullivan replied: “On that date, yes. I was lying.”
The lawyer sought to undermine the credibility of the only witness to link Mr Ebbers directly to the accounting scandal at WorldCom. The former WorldCom chief faces a prison sentence of up to 85 years if he is convicted of fraud, conspiracy and falsifying regulatory documents. Mr Ebbers denies the charges.
Mr Sullivan, who has pleaded guilty to fraud and is co-operating with prosecutors in the hope of a lighter sentence, also admitted to lying during presentations to shareholders, analysts and the company’s board.
He appeared calm and confident during the first day of cross-examination in the trial of Mr Ebbers, much as he did during questioning by the Government last week when he testified that his former boss had known about the accounting adjustments.