Arthur Andersen

broke off talks to reach a settlement with the Justice Department in the government's obstruction of justice case against the crumbling accounting firm.

Preparations will continue for a trial at which Andersen will face the charge. The trial is scheduled to begin May 6. The government has indicted Andersen on one count of obstruction of justice after employees of the firm destroyed documents related to the financial position and ultimate collapse of bankrupt energy trader



Andersen has held talks about selling part of its operations to rival accounting firms, but the company has been slowly splintering for several weeks. Partners in several foreign countries have broken away from the parent company and joined their operations with other firms.