US court sentences ex-Qwest chief to 6 years

Joe Nacchio, the former top chief of US giant Qwest Communications, who was forced to resign during a multibillion-dollar accounting scandal, was sentenced to six years in prison for illegally selling $52 million in stock while not telling investors that his telecommunications company faced serious financial risks, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Nacchio was ordered last week to forfeit the $52 million within 15 days.

He received a maximum $19 million fine and two years' probation after he serves his sentence, the report said.

Once a federal prison is chosen for him, he is to report within 15 days. He was denied bail while he appeals his conviction.

The report said Nacchio, 58, a former AT&T executive, is the latest in a string of former top-level executives to be convicted in recent years in corporate fraud scandals at companies like Enron and WorldCom.

The case grew out of the accounting scandal in which federal regulators said Qwest falsely reported fiber-optic capacity sales as recurring instead of one-time revenue between April 1999 and March 2002.

The Associated Press report further said Prosecutors adopted a narrow focus on insider trading against Nacchio, indicting him for 42 stock sales completed in the first five months of 2001, a time when business unit managers were warning that Qwest faced financial risks because it was increasingly relying on money from one-time sales to meet revenue targets.