Riskon in the News

March 21, 2002, 6:00 p.m. CNN - MONEYLINE
Lou Dobbs, Anchor

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LOU DOBBS, ANCHOR: The anger over the Justice Department's indictment of Andersen spilled on to the streets of Washington today. Rank and file Andersen employees demonstrated their frustration over the DOJ action. They voiced their concerns about their future as well. Susan Lisovicz has their story. [GO TO VIDEO]

CROWD SHOUTING:  Who are we?

ANSWERING:     What do we want?


SUSAN LISOVICZ, REPORTER: With the U.S. capital as a backdrop, hundreds of Arthur Andersen employees put a human face on the crisis facing the nation's fifth largest accounting firm. They came with children, signs, tee shirts and stories.

MARK ANDERSEN, ANDERSEN PARTNER: The story that hasn't been told and what people have not seen are the faces and voices of Andersen, who are 85,000 great individuals, and it gave all of our people a chance to stand up and say here's who we are; here are the people that you indicted, and that's the purpose.


LISOVICZ: Andersen employees also staged rallies in Philadelphia and Houston and took out a full page ad in the New York Times that questions the Justice Department's indictment of the whole firm over the collapse of one account, Enron.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When I think of all of the hard work, commitment and sacrifice of so many people that could possibly end, I think to myself where is the justice in that?

LISOVICZ:          The unusual show of support underscores one of Andersen's greatest strengths, its large arsenal of talented and loyal employees. While Andersen's name is tainted, some recruiters say big five accountants are always in demand.

PATRICIA MARTIN, KATHERINE GIBBS SCHOOLS: What we encourage the employee to do is separate themselves from the company and really sell their own strengths, and go into a new company based on their merits.

LISOVICZ:          But Andersen also represented large clients that also went into bankruptcy. Sunbeam, Waste Management, Boston Chicken and Global Crossing.  For senior management, work outside of Andersen could be difficult.

BARRY HONIG, PRESIDENT OF RISKON: Our due diligence for our clients is to question very, very carefully, to really dig deep and see how close they were to any of these situations that were in the news. Absolutely, we will not represent everyone.

LISOVICZ: Many Andersen employees say they don't want to work anywhere else?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I plan to spend the rest of my career with Arthur Andersen, and to retire here some day. [END VIDEO]

LISOVICZ: But Andersen's own life span could have an abrupt ending. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee is expected to issue subpoenas as early as tomorrow to Andersen, seeking information about the firm's contacts with Enron Executives.  Lou.

DOBBS:  They want a speedy trial, and what's remarkable, as you point out, is those people there with those orange Andersen shirts on.

LISOVICZ:  That say, "I am Arthur Andersen."

DOBBS:  Their people who might be expected to be out pushing their resumes and creating their resumes for the next job, because Andersen, as a firm, it would be the most remote possibility that it could survive.

LISOVICZ: It's really one of the things that make this tragedy the most profound, because the talent and the loyalty that is renown, it's incredible.

DOBBS:          It's incredible. I was talking with one Chief Financial Officer today of a major corporation, who has chosen to stay. He and his management have chosen to stay with Andersen, because they simply believed in the integrity of the firm, the quality of the people they've come to know over the years, as have many of us. It's just a remarkable tragedy.

LISOVICZ:          Most clients have stayed with Andersen, precisely for those reasons.

DOBBS:            Susan, thank you very much. Susan Lisovicz.