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3 former Nortel execs acquitted of fraud charges

Justice: Prosecutors did not pass 'burden of proof' test
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An Ontario Superior Court on Monday dismissed charges of fraud against three former senior executives at telecom equipment supplier Nortel.

Former CEO Frank Dunn, former CFO Douglas Beatty and former Controller Michael Gollogly had been embroiled in a five-month-long trial during which prosecutors contended the three had misrepresented the company's financial results from 2000 to 2004, allegedly receiving bonus payments and defrauding investors.

The former executives were said to have improperly reported losses and profits to artificially create cash and stock bonuses worth a total of CAD 12.8 million (USD 13 million).

Justice Frank Marrocco, however, said the prosecutors did not meet the burden of proof and he was therefore acquitting the three men, according to a Reuters story.

"I am satisfied that, during the time-frame of the indictment, there was at Nortel a culture of conservatism, in the accounting sense of that term," Marrocco wrote in his decision.

Global Toronto reported that the men felt "vindicated" by the decision, according to Beatty's lawyer, Greg Lafontaine.

"There was no fraud at Nortel," Lafontaine continued. "No fraud at Nortel at all."

This judgment marks the end of another chapter in Nortel's beleaguered past, which has included "various probes into accounting irregularities," according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 after dealing with "overcapacity, industry price-cutting and a wave of mergers that bolstered competitors."

For more:
- read the Reuters article
- see the Wall Street Journal piece
- check out Global Toronto's story

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