Federal prosecutors added four charges against former WorldCom Inc. chief financial officer Scott D. Sullivan yesterday, alleging that he fraudulently secured $4.25 billion in loans for the telecommunications company by making false statements to several banks.
Sullivan already faced seven charges of improperly manipulating the company's books in connection with the firm's massive accounting scandal. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.
According to the expanded grand jury indictment made public yesterday, Sullivan defrauded several lending institutions by making false statements about the company's financial condition in documents and presentations to bank officials in 2001.
Prosecutors involved in the case declined to comment yesterday but a spokesman for the U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York said the charges expanded the list of victims of Sullivan's alleged fraud.
"Before you had investors, now you have banks," said spokesman Michael Kulstad.
Sullivan's lawyer, Irvin B. Nathan, said the additional charges were not based on new information.
"I consider this a cheap shot and the legal equivalent of piling on," Nathan said.
Nathan also suggested that the new charges were an attempt to coerce Sullivan into providing information on WorldCom founder and former chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers, who has not been charged in the fraud. Nathan said Sullivan could not be coerced and that he plans to seek vindication in a jury trial.
The indictment states that Sullivan and others working for him knew that Bank of America, Citibank and Chase Manhattan Bank (now J.P. Morgan Chase), among others, relied on inaccurate financial statements when they extended $4.25 billion in credit lines to the company in 2001.
The credit consisted of two separate facilities: a $2.65 billion, one-year revolving line of credit and a five-year, $1.6 billion revolving line of credit. Both lines of credit were issued to cover the company's general corporate expenses.
The indictment also alleges that Sullivan made "material misrepresentations" in a meeting with several of the lenders at a meeting at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York on May 15, 2001. Spokesmen for Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase declined to comment yesterday. Calls to Bank of America were not returned.
Sullivan is one of five former WorldCom executives who been charged with fraud. Four other executives have already pleaded guilty to the charges and are cooperating with prosecutors.
The previous indictment outlined an alleged scheme by Sullivan and other members of WorldCom's finance department to claim billions of dollars in regular expenses as capital investments. The company allegedly used the financial maneuver to claim $5 billion in profits during 2000, 2001 and part of 2002, a period when it lost money.
The expanded indictment comes two days after WorldCom announced that it would do business under the name MCI, in an effort to distance itself from the improper accounting. The company cannot officially change its name until it emerges from bankruptcy, which is expected as soon as September.
The company has said that the improper accounting may add up to as much as $9 billion but sources familiar with ongoing investigations of MCI's books say the final tally may be as much as $11 billion.
MCI spokesman Brad Burns declined to comment on Sullivan's indictment, adding only that the company continues to cooperate with investigations.