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The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Grand jury heard from Anschutz
Qwest's founder was on witness list in probe of ex-execs
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Qwest Communications founder and director Phil Anschutz and University of Colorado President Hank Brown testified this year in front of a federal grand jury investigating former executives of the Denver telco, Reuters reported Tuesday night. Both testified in January, and Anschutz also went before a grand jury panel in July 2004, Reuters said, citing a federal court document.  Brown is a former Qwest director.

The news service said the information was contained in a witness list filed in U.S. District Court in Denver by the attorney for Marc Weisberg, a former Qwest executive who faces money-laundering and wire fraud charges.

Weisberg, who is scheduled to go to trial next month, was indicted in February, a month after Anschutz and Brown testified in front of the grand jury.

Neither Anschutz spokesman Jim Monaghan nor Brown could be reached for comment Tuesday night.  Both declined to comment to Reuters about the testimony.

It was previously known that Anschutz, a Denver billionaire, had testified in front of the Securities and Exchange Commission on Qwest matters.

Neither Anschutz nor Brown has been charged with any wrongdoing.  Both served on Qwest's board at the time that Weisberg, Qwest's former vice president of corporate development, is alleged to have made $2.9 million in ill-gotten gains by secretly pocketing low-priced stock from company suppliers.  He faces eight counts of wire fraud and three counts of money-laundering.  Weisberg has pleaded not guilty.

A federal grand jury also has been investigating former Qwest Chief Executive Joe Nacchio on possible insider trading charges in connection with $50 million of stock sales after the company announced its first quarter results in the spring of 2001.

Reuters said it was unclear whether the federal grand jury testimony of Anschutz and Brown also was related to Nacchio's case.

Nacchio has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and through attorneys has said that he sold his stock in part to diversify his portfolio.  Nacchio sold about $250 million of stock during his tenure at Qwest between 1997 and 2002, mostly by exercising stock options.

Former Chief Financial Officer Robin Szeliga already has pleaded guilty to insider trading in connection with a stock sale in April 2001.  In her plea agreement, Szeliga said other senior executives knew by at least April 24, 2001, that Qwest was boosting its numbers through questionable one-time deals that weren't being disclosed to investors.

Szeliga is expected to be a key government witness against Nacchio if he is charged with insider trading.  Former Qwest President Afshin Mohebbi has been granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation in the government's investigation.

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