Bernard J. Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom, was found guilty yesterday in federal court of orchestrating a record $11 billion fraud that came to symbolize the telecommunications bubble of the 1990’s and the excesses that were uncovered in its aftermath.
Mr. Ebbers was convicted of securities fraud, conspiracy and seven counts of filing false reports with regulators. Each count carries a sentence of 5 or 10 years.
Mr. Ebbers and WorldCom, through the acquisition of dozens of phone companies, helped to create the rush for telecommunications stocks in the 1990’s. They were at the center of a swirl of scandals that cast doubt on corporate accounting methods, the role of Wall Street analysts, and investment bankers who sold stocks and bonds to investors.
Note: during the trial, Bernie maintained that he didn’t understand all the accounting mumbo-jumbo. He was, it seems, just a regular guy at the mercy of sharp-witted accountants.