The long-running Nortel Networks Corp. fraud trial is nearing a close after Crown and defence lawyers said they have finished calling witnesses to testify in the case.
Defence lawyers representing three former Nortel executives said Tuesday they will call no evidence in the case.
The announcement came just moments after Crown attorney Robert Hubbard told a Toronto courtroom the Crown had no further witnesses.
The defence decision to call no witnesses was widely expected by the end of the trial.
It is relatively rare in Canada for the accused to testify in their own defence, and many other potential witnesses who worked with the accused in senior accounting and finance roles at Nortel have already testified as Crown witnesses.
Former Nortel chief executive officer Frank Dunn, former chief financial officer Douglas Beatty and former controller Michael Gollogly are each charged with two counts of fraud for allegedly manipulating the company’s accounting reserves in 2002 and 2003 to push Nortel to profitability to trigger special “return to profitability” bonuses for themselves.
Lawyers for the three men have denied all the allegations and have argued the men believed the use of accounting reserves was appropriate at the time, and the decisions were all approved by Nortel’s auditors from Deloitte & Touche.
The case now moves to closing arguments in the fall. Mr. Justice Frank Marrocco of the Ontario Superior Court has scheduled the Crown’s closing arguments for Sept. 27-28, while defence lawyers will present their closing arguments on Oct. 2-3.
The trial began in January and heard testimony from 20 witnesses over the past six months, including Nortel finance employees, board members, auditors from Deloitte & Touche, and – most unusually – lawyers for the accused. More than 2,500 documents were tendered as part of almost 600 exhibits.
The Crown case finished with a report from accounting expert Robert Chambers, which was filed with the court Monday and contained definitions and an explanation of the proper treatment of accounting reserves.