Verizon Chief Testifies About Buyout Offer of WorldCom

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The chairman and chief executive of Verizon said in court Thursday that he repeatedly approached former WorldCom Chief Executive Bernard Ebbers in 2001 about buying the company.

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According to Dow Jones Newswires, Verizon's Ivan Seidenberg testified in Ebbers' criminal fraud and conspiracy trial that he was not aware that the two companies ever shared nonpublic financial information.

WorldCom, which collapsed under an $11 billion accounting fraud, is now operating as MCI Inc., which Verizon bought on Monday for roughly $6.75 billion.

Seidenberg's testimony backs up statements made by former WorldCom Chief Financial Officer Scott Sullivan, who testified last week that he and Ebbers were so worried about WorldCom's improper accounting being revealed that they abandoned negotiations to be bought by Verizon.

Sullivan has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud changes, testifying in Ebbers' trial to possibly reduce his prison sentence, which may be 25 years. Under cross-examination, Sullivan said that he made most of the accounting decisions, even when he knew the accounting was illegal.

Ebbers has pleaded not guilty.

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