Frank Dunn, one of the multiple ill-fated Nortel CEOs of the 2000s, was acquitted of fraud in Ontario Superior Court Monday.
The same is true of former CFO Douglas Beatty and former Controller Michael Gollogly. All three were charged by the Canadian government in June 2008. Six months later, Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection -- and Monday happens to be the four-year anniversary of that filing.
Coincidentally, Monday is also the scheduled start day for mediation talks about distributing Nortel's $9 billion in remaining assets. Among those fighting for the money will be pensioners, bondholders and suppliers.
According to reports, Justice Frank Marrocco did note some manipulating of the books. For example, executives manipulated accruals -- money set aside for future liabilities -- to make Nortel turn a profit in its first quarter of 2003.
But Marrocco noted that this is not out of the ordinary. More generally, he didn't see any damning evidence that the executives "deliberately misrepresented" Nortel's finances.
A key accusation in the case was that Dunn and the others cooked the books in order to unlock profitability bonuses for all employees including themselves -- $12.8 million in all. (Although, some of that was in stock, which is now valued at a whole lot less.)
See the Ottawa Citizen article from Friday for a hefty summary of the arguments presented at trial.