New York, Sept. 27: Philip F. Anschutz, the former chairman of Qwest Communications International, has agreed to be interviewed by investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a Congressional aide said Thursday.
The committee is investigating swaps of fibre optic network capacity by Qwest and Global Crossing. Both companies are also under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department.
Investigators want to know more about Anschutz’s sale of shares in Qwest on three different occasions in May and June 2001. These transactions netted him about $ 213.5 million.
In all, Anschutz, the billionaire investor, has made about $ 1.45 billion from selling Qwest stock. The committee has found that top Qwest executives sought to complete swaps of fibre optic capacity at several points in 2001, including several days in May, in an effort to bolster financial results as the company was coming under increased pressure.
“I am counting on all your support,” Afshin Mohebbi, Qwest’s president and chief operating officer, wrote to high-ranking sales executives in an e-mail message on September 2001, listing worries in relation to several capacity deals.
“We have done great things together; let’s not have a disaster now.”
Ken Johnson, a committee spokesman and aide for Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., who is chairman of the committee, said investigators were trying to discover whether Anschutz had knowledge of Qwest’s troubles and of efforts to convince Wall Street analysts that sales were not weakening.
“The timing of his sales certainly has raised some eyebrows,” Johnson said.
“Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but we need to hear Anschutz’s explanation on this firsthand.”
Anschutz is expected to be interviewed on a conference call Friday with committee investigators. Anschutz resigned as Qwest’s chairman in June but remains a board member and chairman of the board’s executive committee.
Representatives for Anschutz at Anschutz Investment, his investment company in Denver, could not be reached for comment. Chris Hardman, a Qwest spokesman, declined to comment on Anschutz’s behalf, saying that Qwest did not speak for him. He said that Qwest was co-operating with the committee’s inquiry.
Separately, the committee reissued subpoenas Thursday to Gary Winnick, chairman of Global Crossing, and James Gorton, the company’s former chief counsel, requesting them to appear at a hearing on October 1. The original subpoenas were issued for September 24, during which a first hearing on capacity swaps was held.