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Enron: suicide
graphic January 25, 2002: 1:22 p.m. ET

Former senior executive found dead with a suicide note.
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    NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A former vice chairman of Enron Corp. was found dead early Friday after apparently committing suicide, Texas police said.

    Authorities in Sugar Land, Texas found the body of former Enron vice chairman John C. "Cliff" Baxter, with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, early Friday morning. Police discovered the body inside a vehicle parked between two medians on a highway. A suicide note was also found at the scene, police spokesperson Pat Whitty said.

    "There was no sign of foul play," Whitty, of the Sugarland police department, told CNN. "Inside his wallet was an ID indicating he was an employee of Enron."

    The contents of the suicide note were not released by police and it was not known what connection there was, if any, between the death and the company's collapse.

    Baxter joined Enron in 1991 and became vice chairman in October 2000 before resigning last May.

    "We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Cliff Baxter," Enron said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends." Details

    In other developments in the Enron saga:

  • U.S. lawmakers on Friday offered their first impressions after a day of hearings into the collapse of energy trader Enron Corp. and the practices of its auditor, Arthur Andersen. The results were not favorable.
    Investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee said criminal charges could result from Andersen's effort to shred documents and erase computer files related to its audit of Enron.

    A number of Andersen representatives testified Thursday. David B. Duncan, the lead Enron auditor since fired by Andersen, declined to testify, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The other Andersen representatives told lawmakers that document shredding was Duncan's idea, but lawmakers were skeptical of that claim.

    Duncan, through his attorney, had previously told lawmakers that he ordered the shredding on the advice of Andersen's in-house counsel, Nancy Temple, who also testified Thursday.

    Rep. James Greenwood (R-Pa.)
    Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce oversight committee at Thursday's hearing.
    In any event, as many 80 Andersen employees joined in the shredding once the order was given, a Congressional aide told CNN, meaning the destruction was more widespread than the company has acknowledged. Details.

    Click here for more on Enron's collapse

    The Times also reported that, of the 248 members of Congress serving on the various committees investigating Enron, 212 got campaign contributions from Enron or Andersen. Not surprisingly, supporters of campaign finance reform legislation think they're gaining ground and could push the House of Representatives to address the issue soon.

  • No. 2 U.S. bank J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. could stand to lose up to $1 billion resulting from its relationship with Enron, according to a report in Friday's Wall Street Journal.
    Morgan's insurers are scrutinizing Mahonia Ltd., an energy-trading business established by J.P. Morgan (JPM: Research, Estimates) nearly a decade ago that conducted about 60 percent of its trading with Enron, the report said. Details.

  • The Journal also reported that Stephen Cooper, a bankruptcy reorganization specialist, is the frontrunner to take over as Enron's CEO, succeeding Kenneth Lay, who resigned Wednesday.
    Cooper, a managing principal at consulting firm Zolfo Cooper, previously worked for Federated Department Stores Inc, Morrison Knudsen Corp. and others. Details.

  • The Times reported that inside information was used to lure wealthy investors to a partnership called LJM2, an off-the-balance-sheet group run by Enron executives.
  • At least some people are cashing in on Enron's demise. The Associated Press reported several book deals have resulted from the debacle, and the L.A. t-shirt designer responsible for the "Free Winona" craze now has a line of "Enron: Evildoer" shirts for sale.





    Justice Department