Thu May 25, 2006 16:06

GUILTY: Ken Lay has been found guilty on all six counts




Enron guilty verdicts draw widespread applause

... after a Texas jury delivered a raft of guilty verdicts that could lead to life in prison for the chief architects behind the epic rise and collapse of Enron. ...


Enron bosses found guilty
This is Money
25 May 2006

TWO former bosses of Enron have been found guilty of fraud and conspiracy charges for their part in bringing down US telecoms giant Enron.

Following the world's largest-ever fraud trial, Kenneth Lay, former chief executive, was found guilty on six different counts.

A second former company executive, Jeffrey Skilling, was found guilty of 19 of the 28 charges. He could face up to 185 years in prison.

The trial lasted for 15 weeks, with 54 witness called by the two sides. The two men had denied 34 counts of fraud, conspiracy and insider trading relating to the collapse of the company, which sparked compensation claims from investors of up to $30bn.

Enron had a meteoric rise, growing from small energy trading firm in the late Nineties to becoming America's 7th largest firm in 2001. The company was widely admired in the US, attracting thousands of small investors.

Later that year, accounting irregularities emerged and the company filed for bankruptcy.

Enron shares lost $68bn in value from their peak in 2000 to its December 2001 bankruptcy. Former Enron finance director Andrew Fastow has already been jailed.


Sen. Carl Levin
Tue Mar 5 19:00:04 2002

Dear Friend:

Thank you for contacting me about the Congressional inquiries into the
collapse of Enron. Enron was the largest energy trading company in the world,
and at one point, it was listed as the 7th largest corporation in the United
States. Yet the company abruptly collapsed, upending the lives of thousands of
Enron employees and shareholders.

Enron's collapse also rattled the American people's confidence in Wall
Street and the federal agencies that oversee it. Now, it is alleged that Enron,
with its auditor Arthur Anderson, issued misleading financial statements;
engaged in corporate conflicts of interest; shredded documents while under
investigation; pursued insider profits at the same time employees were losing
their hard-earned savings; hid debt; and took earnings that are taxable in the
U.S. and using offshore paper entities, mainly in the Caribbean, converted them
to nontaxable earnings.

Americans in record numbers now rely on the stock market for their financial
security including their retirement savings, college education for their
children, quality care for elderly parents and adequate money for their
retirement. Investors and employees rely on the expectation that corporate
executives and board members are acting in the best interests of the
stockholders, according to their duty, and that the information companies pass
along to the investing public is accurate and trustworthy. That is why the
situation surrounding the collapse of Enron is so disturbing.

The American people deserve an explanation for this debacle and legislative
action to close any loopholes.

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), which I chair, is one of
the subcommittees that has initiated an investigation the Enron Corporation.
The PSI is looking at the role of the Enron Board of Directors; the role of
Arthur Andersen; and Enron's use of offshore entities.

Enron's deceptions and accounting gimmicks are clearly unacceptable. The
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is planning to hold hearings on the
Enron collapse later this year after we have had the opportunity to thoroughly
examine the facts of the case.

It may be that Enron and Andersen broke laws or it may be that the principal
scandal is what passes for legal conduct in today's marketplace. But in the
interim, we must take steps to ensure that no other company is permitted to use
deceptive corporate structures and accounting practices to hide information
concerning their financial health from stockholders and employees.

I will be sure to keep your views in mind as we proceed through the
investigation. Best wishes.


Carl Levin -


* BREAKING: Ken Lay Indicted, Will Surrender to FBI — TRUTHOUT, Wed Jul 7 18:52

o White House counsel Alberto Gonzales: "beating himself up" — Newsweek, Wed Jul 7 19:01

High court overturns Arthur Andersen's Enron conviction
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned the conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm for destroying Enron-related documents before the energy giant's collapse.

In a unanimous opinion, justices said the former Big Five accounting firm's June 2002 obstruction-of-justice conviction — which virtually destroyed Andersen — was improper. The decision said jury instructions at trial were too vague and broad for jurors to determine correctly whether Andersen obstructed justice. (Opinion: Arthur Andersen, LLP v. U.S.)

"The jury instructions here were flawed in important respects," Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the court.

Acting assistant Attorney General John Richter said the Justice Department is disappointed with the decision and is considering whether to retry the case with a proper jury instruction.

"The Justice Department's decision to charge Arthur Andersen was based at the time on the determination that the substantial destruction of documents in anticipation of an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission violated the law," he said. "We remain convinced that even the most powerful corporations have the responsibility of adhering to the rule of law."

Patrick Dorton, a spokesman for Andersen, said the company is pleased that the ruling "acknowledges the injustice that has been done to Arthur Andersen and its former personnel and retirees."

"This decision represents an important step in removing an unjustified cloud over the professionalism and integrity of the people of Arthur Andersen," he said in a statement.

The ruling is a setback for the Bush administration, which made prosecution of white-collar criminals a high priority following accounting scandals at major corporations. After Enron's 2001 collapse, the Justice Department went after Andersen first.

Enron crashed in December 2001, putting more than 5,000 employees out of work, just six weeks after the energy company revealed massive losses and writedowns.

As the Securities and Exchange Commission began looking into Enron's convoluted finances, Andersen put in practice a policy calling for destroying unneeded documentation.

Government attorneys argued that Andersen should be held responsible for instructing its employees to "undertake an unprecedented campaign of document destruction." It said Andersen was guilty under an obstruction law that makes it a crime to "corruptly persuade" others to destroy documents.

But in his opinion, Rehnquist noted that it is not necessarily wrong for companies to instruct employees to destroy documents, even if the intent is in part to keep information from the government.

Like a mother who advises a son to invoke his right against compelled self-incrimination out of fear he might be convicted, "persuading" an employee to withhold information is not "inherently malign," Rehnquist wrote.

"The instructions also diluted the meaning of 'corruptly' so that it covered innocent conduct," Rehnquist said.

At trial, Andersen argued that employees who shredded tons of documents followed the policy and there was no intent to thwart the SEC investigation.

The probe into Andersen led to just one guilty plea, from the firm's former top Enron auditor, David Duncan. But the conviction of the Chicago firm forced it to surrender its accounting license and stop conducting public audits. About 28,000 workers had to find other jobs, and the company was left a shell of its former self.

A ruling against Andersen would have had onerous consequences for businesses, whose discarding of files is an everyday occurrence. Experts say companies would have to keep all files for fear that any disposal, however innocent, could subject them to potential prosecution.

According to Andersen attorneys, notes and drafts of documents were thrown away under the firm's document-retention policy in part because they were preliminary and could have been misconstrued.

Andersen's appeal was backed by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. It argued in a friend-of-the-court filing that broad characterization of "obstruction" used in the jury instructions would also unfairly punish criminal attorneys who advise their clients to withhold evidence in legal ways.

Such a broad reading could open defense lawyers and others to prosecution if they merely advise clients of their rights to assert legal privileges or review document retention policies, the criminal defense group said.

With the ruling, the Supreme Court overturned a federal appeals court ruling that upheld Andersen's conviction, and the justices sent the case back for further proceedings.

The case is Andersen v. U.S., 04-368.

Related links: Case docket and background material (U.S. v. Arthur Andersen, LLP)

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