Szeliga wrote warning
By Rocky Mountain News
Friday, July 15, 2005
Robin Szeliga, 44, came to Qwest in late 1997 after spending a decade as a finance executive at the cable-TV company Tele-Communications Inc., now Comcast.
When former CFO Robert Wood- ruff left the company in February 2001, then-CEO Joe Nacchio named Szeliga interim CFO, and she took the post on a full-time basis two months later, holding the job until July 2002.
Szeliga was known for her workaholic tendencies and hard-driving personality, and her hobbies included cycling, skiing, triathlons and running. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Szeliga - whose family lives in a 3,600-square-foot home in Littleton - didn't make out nearly as well financially as either Nacchio or -Woodruff in terms of stock sales. The SEC said Szeliga received "ill-gotten" gains totaling $1.6 million during the period of Qwest's accounting irregularities, compared with Nacchio's $216.4 million and Woodruff's $41 million.
When Dick Notebaert took over as CEO in the summer of 2002, he named Oren Shaffer as CFO, replacing Szeliga but keeping her on board for another year as an executive vice president.
Szeliga later testified she had become aware of irregularities when the company's controller expressed concerns in mid-2001 and later realized sales executives had entered into secret side agreements that invalidated Qwest's accounting. In a memo on Aug. 2, 2001, Szeliga warned company officials to stop.
Ken Johnson, a spokesman for a House subcommittee, said after hearings on the Qwest matter in fall 2002 that he viewed Szeliga as competent "but perhaps in over her head" in the position of CFO.
Such questions about Szeliga's credibility surfaced again in the spring of 2004, when federal prosecutors called on Szeliga to testify in the criminal trial against four former midlevel Qwest executives accused of inflating revenues.
Szeliga told defense attorneys she wasn't an accounting expert. Bill Carlino, editor in chief of Accounting Today, wrote that he found that to be a "rather odd statement from a woman whose biography indicated that she has her CPA (certified public accountant) credential and 15 years of experience."