Defendant Seifert Gives Evidence in O&M Trial

17 February 2005

Former senior Ogilvy and Mather advertising executive Shona Seifert, on trial for allegedly defrauding a US government department, has vigorously denied wrongdoing.

Seifert appeared in the New York courtroom to refute the charge that she orchestrated a scheme to over-bill the Office of National Drug Control Policy's $1 billion (€770m, £529m) advertising account.

Seifert is accused with ex-colleague Thomas Early of trying to make up a $3 million revenue shortfall on the antidrugs account by falsifying timesheets for the hours worked on the business.

She claims the timesheets were changed because staff were making mistakes or not filling in their hours at all.

Seifert said that, in common with other creative shops, staff were hostile to completing timesheets. She insists she did not instruct anyone to change their hours: "I just asked everyone to please do their timesheets."

She says the agency realised it was too understaffed and inexperienced to handle the workload soon after it won the account in 1999.

She described to the court how the ONDCP quickly became frustrated by its relationship with O&M, quoting an email expressing the client's "total dissatisfaction".

The trial continues.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff