Tags: Enron's | Lay | Declines | Testify

Enron's Lay Declines To Testify

Sunday, 03 February 2002 12:00 AM

With the surprise move, he joins the ranks of other top Enron officials who have declined to answer congressional questions -- Andrew Fastow and Michael Kopper, who refused to voluntarily participate, and David Duncan, Andersen’s lead Enron auditor, who invoked his Fifth Amendment,

Confounding many in the defense bar, Lay had heretofore not brought up the delicate subject of immunity, which could minimize his potential liability for criminal prosecution.

"Mr. Lay hasn’t asked for any kind of immunity and we don’t expect that to change,” said the office of Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who was slated to preside over the hearing.

But all has changed now that Lay's attorney Earl Silbert instructed him to withdraw his offer of a voluntary appearance, saying that he felt Congress had made conclusions even before hearing from his client.

A spokesman for the committee said that a subpoenae would issued for Lay's appearance at a later time.

Some of the issues slated for the hearing included:

According to a committee spokesman, Fastow, who helped engineer the partnerships, made an estimated $30 million from them. Enron’s attorney in Washington has told Congress that Enron does not have key documents about the suspect partnerships, saying such documents must come from the partnerships themselves.

Minutes of Enron board meetings indicate that Lay and other directors had full information about the hidden partnerships that kept millions in debt off the company’s balance sheet.

Lay, who resigned January 23 as chairman and chief executive, is not new to Capitol Hill. In May 1996 he testified, calling for opening electricity markets to competition.

"The vision I have in mind,” he testified, "will have a dramatic impact on every household and every business in America.”

But that was then. The mood on the Hill has shifted as violently as the value of Enron stock, which has been banned from the big board.

"The more I’ve seen of this, the more it smells. There’s something dreadfully wrong that happened in this corporation,” said Dorgan recently.

On Dec. 2, Enron filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Enron and its accounting firm Anderson are under investigation for potential criminal violations by the Justice Department.

Recently, Justice ordered Bush staff to preserve documents relating to conversations with Enron executives about the company’s interests.

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With the surprise move, he joins the ranks of other top Enron officials who have declined to answer congressional questions -- Andrew Fastow and Michael Kopper, who refused to voluntarily participate, and David Duncan, Andersen's lead Enron auditor, who invoked his Fifth...
Enron's,Lay,Declines,Testify
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2002-00-03
Sunday, 03 February 2002 12:00 AM
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