Former Arthur Andersen employees, clients celebrate disbanded firm’s centennial

Eleven years after the national accounting firm Arthur Andersen disbanded, more than 300 of its former employees and clients gathered Thursday night in New Orleans to celebrate what would have been the firm’s 100th anniversary.

The reunion, held at the Roosevelt Hotel, included keynote addresses from Kay Priestly, chief executive officer of Turquoise Hill Resources, and Von Graham, who is now retired.

Both Priestly and Graham once led Andersen’s New Orleans office.

Graham, who reigned over Carnival as Rex in 1985, eventually went on to serve as chairman of the board of partners of Andersen Worldwide.

“It’s a celebration of all the good things about Andersen,” said James Harp, chief financial officer of Hornbeck Offshore Services, who worked at Andersen for 15 years. “It was like a family, and now it’s important to us to remember it and all the values that were instilled upon us by our mentors and the firm’s policies and culture.”

At its peak, the New Orleans office employed about 200 certified public accountants. Some 1,500 accountants worked at the office over its 55-year history, Harp said.

Two managing partners from the local office went on to chair the board of partners of Andersen Worldwide.

Similar celebrations took place in 11 other U.S. cities Thursday.

Arthur Andersen, one of the world’s largest accounting firms, was effectively put out of business in 2002 after it surrendered its license to practice in the wake of the Enron Corp. scandal.

The firm was convicted of obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to its audit of Enron, the giant energy company that went bankrupt in 2001.

The Supreme Court later overturned that ruling.