USA . ENRON
Federal prosecutors have indicted ex-Enron chairman Kenneth Lay on fraud charges relating to the collapse in 2001 of the energy trading giant. “I have done nothing wrong, and the indictment is not justified,” Lay said in a statement.
Criminal charges in the Enron scandal have been filed against 30 defendants to date, among them former CEO Geoffrey Skilling, who has not commented on the charges. Some have already pleaded guilty.
Executives were accused of creative accounting and setting up shadow companies that took in gigantic profits. Tapes were recently released showing Enron energy traders joking about how they gouged California energy consumers.
Skilling faces 42 counts of fraud, insider trading and lying about the firm’s finances. Former Enron finance chief Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty to conspiracy in January and is expected to testify against Lay.
Some critics have expressed the view that Lay may beat the rap. He was once so close to the US president that reputedly Bush referred to him as ‘Kenny Boy’. There is also speculation among prominent US politicians that Lay’s relationship with George W. Bush caused the lengthy delay in Lay’s indictment.