As the CEO of Union Carbide until his retirement in 1986, he was charged with manslaughter in the Bhopal case. Anderson had been arrested and released on bail by the Madhya Pradesh Police in Bhopal on December 7, 1984. He fled by private jet, since refusing to return to India. He was declared a fugitive from justice by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal on February 1, 1992, for failing to appear at the court hearings in a culpable homicide case in which he was named the chief defendant.
Anderson was born in 1921 in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York, to Swedish immigrants. He was named for the President of the United States Warren Harding. He later attended the Naval Pre-Flight School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he played on the Pre-Flight football team with Otto Graham, who later enjoyed success with the NFL's Cleveland Browns.