Disgraced accounting giant Arthur Andersen has been sentenced to five years probation and fined $500,000 for its conviction of obstructing justice in the probe of Enron.

US District Judge Melinda Harmon imposed the maximum fine on the Chicago-based accounting firm, which was forced to end its audit business following its conviction in June.

Evidence in the trial showed that Andersen employees shredded thousands of documents and deleted numerous e-mails last year just as federal investigators were closing in on irregularities on its client Enron.

The sentencing is largely irrelevant because Andersen following its conviction was barred from doing audits for publicly traded companies. The company's US and international operations have largely been picked apart by its competitors.

A federal jury concluded after 10 days that Andersen staffers conspired to destroy or erase Enron-related documents as the Houston energy trader headed towards a meltdown in late 2001 in the full spotlight of an official investigation.

Since then, US authorities have charged former Enron finance chief Andrew Fastow with fraud and money laundering, and a federal task force is continuing the probe.