In his first public interview since the government accused HealthSouth Corp. in March of $2.5 billion in securities fraud, former company CEO Richard Scrushy said Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes" program that previous HealthSouth CFOs orchestrated and committed the fraud without his knowledge. Scrushy, who appeared on television without his attorney present, said he signed off on financial documents that inflated company profits but was completely unaware of his employees' scam. "You have to rely, you have to trust people," Scrushy told Mike Wallace, according to program transcripts. "You have to believe. You have to delegate. I mean, you hire them. You pay them good salaries. You expect them to do the right thing. And I signed off on the information based on what was provided to me. And what I was told." So far, 15 HealthSouth employees, including all five former CFOs, have pleased guilty to fraud charges. Allegations of inflated profits surfaced in March after one CFO approached federal prosecutors. Scrushy told "60 Minutes" he believed "promotions, bonuses, stock, stock options, an opportunity to make a lot of money" and other "tremendous incentives" including "power" and "greed" motivated his CFOs to falsely inflate earnings. "There was no motive for me to destroy a great company that I built, a company that I loved, my fourth child," he said.
Scrushy, the founder of HealthSouth, is set to appear in Washington later this week before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating HealthSouth's financial problems. He is expected to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. -- by Julie Piotrowski