Powell taken to task

Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson to head task force

WASHINGTON — President Bush on Tuesday tapped Federal Communications Commission chair Michael Powell to sit on a new task force that will ferret out corporate evildoers.

The prez likened the interagency effort to a “financial crimes SWAT team, overseeing the investigation of corporate abusers and bringing them to account.”

As head of the FCC, Powell’s jurisdiction is the telecom and media businesses. In recent days, Powell has huddled with Wall Street analysts, credit rating services and investors over the financial crash of WorldCom, a long-distance telephone and data services conglom.

“There is a severe capital crisis putting a tremendous strain on the telecommunications industry. It is imperative to do everything possible to restore investor confidence in this critical sector of the economy,” Powell said. “I applaud the president’s initiative, and the commission stands ready to offer its expertise to assist in the effort to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes and restore credibility to the market.”

Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson will head up the task force.

In his remarks, Bush said one of the project’s goals will be longer prison terms for corporate execs found guilty of fraud.

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