International Telephone & Telegraph Corp. yesterday tried a new legal maneuver to head off publication of a government suit that is expected to name some foreign recipients of alleged bribes paid by the company.
ITT asked U.S. District Court Judge George Hart Jr., who has under seal the suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, to extend the seal until the company can again seek a Supreme Court hearing.
The high court has turned down ITT once already.
On Monday, the court issued a one-sentence denial, without elaboration, of ITT's application for a stay of publication of the SEC suit until it could present its side of the case in closed court.
Hart has asked the SEC to comment on ITT's latest request for an extension of the seal. ITT has fought unsuccessfully in the courts to block publication of the names for about 7 months.
The SEC can be expected to oppose ITT's latest request to Hart.
But if Hart agrees to extend the seal, then ITT can seek a new Supreme Court hearing on the SEC's allegatons before the suit is made public. This would be a departure from the normal procedure when the SEC files a complaint against a company.
Normally the SEC files its suit, pased on an investigation, then the defendant either agrees to the findings or goes to court to challenge the commission's allegations.
Judge Hart is expected to decide whether to extend the seal in a few days. If Hart orders the SEC suit to be published, however, ITT would have no reason to go to the high court.