Nacchio civil cases a go
A judge refuses to dismiss a suit against the ex-CFO of Qwest.
Depositions are ordered for the ex-CEO.
By Sandy Shore, The Associated Press
Friday, September 29, 2006
A judge has refused to dismiss a civil fraud case against former
Qwest finance chief Robin Szeliga, ruling that the complaint
lacked clarity but provided sufficient details to allow her to
"It is abundantly clear to the court that the securities fraud
claims against defendant Szeliga arise from alleged
misrepresentations and omissions in several discreet areas,"
U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger wrote.
Her decision, issued Wednesday, came in the Securities and
Exchange Commission lawsuit against Szeliga and several former
executives of the Denver-based telephone company, including
one-time chief executive Joe Nacchio.
On its heels, U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer on Thursday
ordered attorneys for both sides and prosecutors handling a
criminal case against Nacchio to begin the arduous process of
lining up depositions from about a dozen potential witnesses.
Shaffer acknowledged that some depositions will have to wait
until Nacchio's insider- trading trial has ended next spring to
preserve his fair-trial rights but noted the civil case must
continue to proceed.
About a dozen employees and former employees of accounting firms
that handled Qwest's business and former Qwest employees have
been identified as potential witnesses who likely could undergo
questioning without jeopardizing the criminal case against
Shaffer told the attorneys to finalize a list of those who could
be questioned and start scheduling the process in early
He noted that while the SEC has been interviewing witnesses for
several years, defense attorneys have not yet been able to
question them. "We should at least try to have a somewhat level
playing field," he said.
Szeliga had asked Krieger to dismiss the allegations against her
or to order regulators to provide more details. She contended
they took a "smorgasbord" approach instead of providing specific
allegations against individual defendants.
SEC attorneys said the complaint stems from alleged
misrepresentations about Qwest's fiber-optic-capacity sales and
swaps, the sale of the Dex directory-publishing business and
employee vacations, Krieger wrote in Wednesday's opinion.