The second defendant in the New York trial of two former Ogilvy & Mather executives has given evidence in his defense.

Thomas Early, ex-director of finance, denies conspiring to defraud a US government department while the agency was working on an antidrugs campaign in 1999.

Early told the court he did not instruct O&M staff to falsify their time sheets for the hours worked on the $1 billion (€769m, £532m) Office of National Drug Control Policy account.

Prosecutors claim Early and his co-accused Shona Seifert masterminded a plot to over-bill the ONDCP to make up a $3 million revenue shortfall. They both deny the charges but face up to five years in jail if convicted.

Early maintains he directed lower-level employees to bring in staff on the ONDCP because of a real need for more hands. He dismissed as "unrealistic" allegations that new staffers were hurriedly hired in 1999 for other accounts but told to bill their hours to the ONDCP.

The defense says O&M lacked experience in handling such strictly regulated government contracts and was overworked soon after it won the account.

The trial continues.

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