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Worldcom general counsel Michael Salsbury resigned last week, together with treasurer Susan Mayer, following further revelations of the accounting scandals that bankrupted the telecoms company.
Reports compiled for the Bankruptcy Court and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) excused the legal chief of any financial wrongdoing, but lambasted the legal and audit teams for failing to control a corporate culture in which acts of wrongdoing were commonplace.
“WorldCom’s legal and audit departments and its internal audit department were not structured in ways that would make them effective as a control of management wrongdoing,” stated the report, which was compiled by William McLucas, former chief of the enforcement division of the SEC.
James Brumm, general counsel at US-based trading company Mitsubishi International, said: “The general counsel should have resigned much earlier given the situation. If there’s some kind of transaction or activity that’s illegal, then as a general counsel you first have to go beyond the chief executive officer if they won’t follow your advice and go to the board. If you don’t get any reaction from the board to support your position, then ultimately you have no choice but to resign.”