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Friday, 30 August, 2002, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Andersen's last auditing hours
Workers at Andersen's Enron-tainted US unit face their last day of normal operations, before a ban on the firm's bread-and-butter operations comes into force.

Arthur Andersen will be banned from auditing US public companies from Saturday, after being found guilty in June of obstructing justice in the investigation of Enron's collapse.

The sanction follows a saga of document shredding, obscure Enron partnerships and fraud accusations which has humbled the once mighty Arthur Andersen.

Yet the firm will continue to operate, in a form yet to be made clear.

Cleaners take over

Arthur Andersen has insisted it will not dissolve or file for bankruptcy, despite being barred from its core audit work.

Tasks are likely to include overseeing administrative functions such as the sale of art works and other assets, as well as tackling a series of lawsuits, and appealing against its conviction.

Art valued at $300-400,000 (194-258,000) from Andersen offices in its Southern region was sold in a three-day sale earlier this month.

Some operations have already fallen into rival hands and the Atlanta operation boasts little more than a cleaning crew and office movers.

Retirement cash locked-up

Retired Andersen partner Robert Baxter visited his old Andersen office in Philadelphia only to find it transformed into a KPMG office.

Not that the likes of Mr Baxter, who took early retirement from Andersen, have been able to stay retired for long.

After realising that their retirement cash was locked up in Arthur Andersen's partner capital, rather than in independent funds, they have realised that they, too are victims of the unit's collapse.

"It was very frustrating and nerve wrecking," said Mr Baxter, who is now at accounting firm Smart & Associates.

While a group of former staff is fighting to recover some cash, there seems little hope of a significant pay-off.

"At this point, I'll take free movie tickets," Mr Baxter said.

Enron payout

Meanwhile Andersen Worldwide, the Swiss-based entity which co-ordinates the national Andersen sites, has fought to retain its viability.

Andersen Worldwide this week paid $40m to Enron investors, who are pursuing claims for $25bn.

Yet Worldwide refused to admit liability for the lapses of Arthur Andersen, and claimed the US arm, like other national Andersen offices, operated independently.


The trial

The disintegration

Background

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See also:

27 Aug 02 | Business
16 Aug 02 | Business
25 Jul 02 | Business
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