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Accounting Firm Arthur Andersen Guilty of Obstruction of Justice - 2002-06-15

A 12-member jury in the U.S. state of Texas has found the entire Arthur Andersen accounting firm guilty of obstruction of justice for shredding documents related to the failed energy giant, Enron.

The verdict was read out Saturday in a courtroom in Houston, Texas, after the jury deliberated for 11 days. Andersen has admitted it destroyed Enron documents, but argued that it had no malicious intent in doing so.

The decision comes after the judge ruled that deadlocked jurors did not have to agree on which specific individual within Andersen had committed a crime - as long as they all agreed that the firm acted with "corrupt intent" to destroy documents related to Enron's fall.

The company faces a $500,000 fine. But observers say the verdict also may mean the end of the 89-year-old firm - which has already sold off most of its overseas subsidiaries, lost many of its clients and laid off thousands of employees.

The conviction represents the first successful prosecution in the scandal surrounding Enron's collapse.