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News Briefs

WorldCom Executive Tried To Halt Co-Worker’s Questions

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Beleaguered WorldCom Inc. Controller David Myers tried to muzzle a co-worker who raised questions about the company’s books with outside accounting firm Arthur Andersen, according to documents released Monday by a House subcommittee.

Myers sent a threatening e-mail to Steven Brabbs, WorldCom’s vice president for international controls in London, after Brabbs -- allegedly without authorization -- approached Arthur Andersen about the way in which millions of dollars in WorldCom expenses were accounted for.

“Do not have any more meetings” with Arthur Andersen, Myers wrote in a Jan. 22 e-mail to Brabbs. “I spoke to AA this morning and hear that you are still talking about asset impairments and facilities. I do not want to hear an excuse. Just stop. Don’t make me ask you again,” Myers wrote.

The e-mail was part of a series of WorldCom documents released by the House Financial Services Committee’s investigation subcommittee, which has been probing questionable accounting practices that helped drive the nation’s second-largest long-distance carrier to file for bankruptcy last month.

FBI To Return to Anthrax Scene

THE WASHINGTON POST

The FBI announced Monday that it will again search the Florida office of American Media Inc., hoping that new techniques will reveal how deadly anthrax spores entered the headquarters of the tabloid publisher last fall.

The new search, which should begin no later than Wednesday, will focus on finding a letter or other method of delivery as well as collecting additional spores from the Boca Raton office, which has been shuttered and quarantined since it was contaminated with anthrax spores last fall, officials said Monday.

Photo editor Robert Stevens died of anthrax and another AMI employee, mail room worker Ernesto Blanco, became severely ill but later recovered. Stevens was the first of five people to die in the series of anthrax attacks last fall.

The FBI searched the mailroom and workstations of affected employees after last fall’s attack. It found anthrax spores but no letters like the ones that emerged in some of the subsequent anthrax attacks in New York and Washington. It is not known whether the AMI anthrax was delivered by mail or in some other fashion.

Banking Executives Give Brazil Hope on Loans

THE WASHINGTON POST

The troubled international initiative to rescue the Brazilian economy got a shot in the arm Monday as executives of 16 major banks, meeting in the presence of U.S. regulators and Brazilian officials, issued a statement voicing their “intention” to maintain credit lines to Brazil.

The meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York marked an important effort to shore up the International Monetary Fund’s $30 billion bailout of Brazil by persuading banks to stop pulling money out of the country. Despite the announcement on Aug. 7 that Brazil would receive the largest loan in IMF history, an outflow of funds from the country has continued, threatening to undermine the U.S.-backed rescue, which is aimed at keeping South America’s biggest economy from collapse. One of the problems has been the canceling of credit lines by foreign banks.

Initially at least, the meeting and the statement issued afterward appeared to produce the desired effect. Brazilian financial markets have rallied in recent days in part because of the disclosure that the meeting would be held, and Monday the country’s main stock index jumped 4.35 percent.