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U.S. Senate Leaders: WorldCom Scandal Threatens Confidence In U.S. Economy

By Agence France-Presse U.S. Senate leaders on June 26 said the WorldCom Inc. accounting scandal threatened investor confidence in the economy and criticized the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission for falling down on the job. "This is something that is a failure on our system's part," said Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J. "It is undermining to our economic welfare, undermining investment in our economy." The once high-flying telecom giant -- the second-largest long-distance U.S. phone company and a major Internet player -- disclosed on June 25 company officials had misstated accounting figures in the amount of $3.8 billion. Asked if SEC Director Harvey Pitt had done enough to head off the crisis, which comes on the heels of the Enron Corp. accounting fracas, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., bluntly said: "He is not doing the job." "I think he ought to be doing a lot more. I don't see the kind of aggressive activity, the kind of attitude in the SEC that we need to do this right," Daschle said. "And unless we see it, you're going to see a continued crisis of confidence about enforcement that I think is perilously troubling to this country." U.S. President George W. Bush, in Canada for a Group of Eight summit, branded the WorldCom scandal "outrageous" and vowed a full investigation into the Clinton, Miss.-based telecom's apparent accounting irregularities. Daschle vowed the Congress would move quickly to pass accounting legislation to regulate the sector. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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