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Andersen Is Sued by Ex-Partners

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From Times Wire Services

A group of retired Arthur Andersen partners has filed a new complaint against the accounting firm, saying the company’s break-up is jeopardizing their retirement and health benefits.

The complaint, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, seeks to prevent Andersen from removing non-compete contracts that bar partners from leaving to work for other firms.

Andersen’s U.S. and international units have been splintering as the firm tries to survive a criminal indictment related to its audits of Enron Corp. Andersen also is involved in multiple negotiations to sell parts of its U.S. business.

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The firm’s 675 retired U.S. partners say the pending transactions don’t explicitly provide for the pension and health benefits for retired partners and the spouses of partners who have died.

On Monday, jury selection began in the case focusing on Andersen’s alleged role contributing to the bankruptcy of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona.

About 13,000 mostly elderly investors lost $570 million when the foundation filed for bankruptcy protection in 1999. Andersen was the foundation’s auditor.

Andersen reached a $217-million settlement in March with the foundation’s investors. But the settlement fell through four weeks later when Andersen said its insurance carrier was unable to pay.

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Bloomberg News and Associated Press were used in compiling this report.

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