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Qwest's Optical Illusion

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By David Perera March 29, 2007

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Before his trial started, indicted ex-Qwest head Joseph Nacchio indicated his defense against insider trading charges was going to rest on possibly classified information. Nacchio is on trial for 42 counts of insider trading in Denver federal court. The former chief executive officer sold $100.8 million worth of Qwest stock in 2001 just before the company's shares dropped.

Now former Qwest Chief Financial Officer Robin R. Szeliga has given jurors a hint about Joe’s Big Secret: fiber optics.

As AP reports:

At a time when Qwest faced challenges in meeting 2001 financial targets, Joseph P. Nacchio, then its chief executive, described the government’s need for fiber optic network capacity and hoped the company would win lucrative contracts to meet that demand, a former Qwest finance chief testified Tuesday.

She said Mr. Nacchio told her that he could not explain because the information was classified, but that he had access to it through his membership on a government telecommunications panel. A defense lawyer, Herbert J. Stern, described the government’s capacity need as “mind-blowing, mind-boggling.”

One reason, of course, why Qwest's stock plummeted was its overexpansion into fiber optics.

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