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Andersen Video Puts Cheney on Spot
Published on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 by the BBC
Andersen Video Puts Cheney on Spot
 
It has emerged in the United States that Vice-President Dick Cheney took part in a promotional video for the disgraced accounting firm Andersen.

The news comes as an anti-corruption pressure group prepares to sue Mr Cheney for alleged fraudulent accounting practices.

In the video Mr Cheney - then Chief Executive of the oil company Halliburton - describes how Andersen gave advice "over and above" what would normally be expected from auditors.

Last month, the firm was convicted of obstructing justice by shredding documents relating to the failed US energy giant Enron.

The developments came hours after President George W Bush tried to distance himself from corporate fraud, proposing tougher penalties as a way of restoring confidence in the wake of recent business scandals that have shaken the US.

'Good advice'

The Andersen video, obtained by the Wall St Journal newspaper, is a further embarrassment for President Bush's administration.

Correspondents say its business connections are fast becoming a serious liability.

The video was recorded in 1996.

"I get good advice, if you will, from their people based upon how we're doing business and how we're operating over and above the just sort of normal by-the-book auditing arrangement," Mr Cheney says in a short section of the video.

Andersen's reputation has been destroyed in recent weeks after it emerged that it had destroyed documents for one of its clients, Enron.

Enron has admitted to grossly exaggerating its profits to attract investors.

'Share overvaluation'

In a separate development, pressure group Judicial Watch, says Mr Cheney deceived investors while he was a director of the oil company Halliburton in the 1990s.

In a case being filed in Dallas, Texas, Mr Cheney is alleged to have engaged in practices which led to the overvaluation of the company's shares.

Judicial Watch says Mr Cheney deceived investors while he was a director of the oil company Halliburton in the 1990s.

It is also suing for access to records of Mr Cheney's energy task force that drew up the Bush administration's energy policy last year.

"To look the other way for the vice-president would be to set a precedent that the Washington elite are above the law," said Larry Klayman, chairman at Judicial Watch.

But Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said, "We don't believe the case has any merit."

Details of the lawsuit are likely to emerge during a news conference in Miami on Wednesday.

Harsher punishments

In a speech in New York's financial district on Tuesday, President Bush said he wanted to tighten measures against corporate fraud.

He announced a doubling - to 10 years - of the maximum prison sentence, and the formation of a special investigative task force.

But Judicial Watch said that Mr Bush's rush to crack down on corporate fraud seemed intended to deflect attention away from his and Mr Cheney's own business practices.

Mr Bush has already faced questions about his work as a director of Texas-based Harken Energy Corp a decade ago, when the firm faced an inquiry for masking huge losses.

Copyright 2002 BBC

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