Enron: White House holds docs
Administration agrees to DOJ request; Bush wants 401 equality.
NEW YORK (CNNmoney) - The Justice Department has asked the White House to retain all documents related to bankrupt energy trader Enron Corp. since January 1999, while President Bush used his weekly radio address to outline a plan to ensure equal access to 401(k) portfolios for employers and employees.|
The DOJ requested that White House staff and employees ensure they hold onto all documents -- including electronic records and correspondence, computer records and storage devices, notes and memos -- related to the Enron matter. The order also covers papers from the Clinton administration, which would not ordinarily be under the custody of the current administration.
"We believe that documents in the possession of the White House, its staff and employees may contain information relevant to our investigation into the financial condition of Enron and statements made by Enron employees and agents relating to its financial condition and business interest," Christopher Wary, the DOJ's Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, said in a fax to White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez.
The White House said it has directed its staff to comply with the request. Details
On Dec. 2, Houston-based Enron filed the largest bankruptcy in United States history. The company has since become the subject of a criminal probe by the FBI and the Department of Justice.
Here are some of the latest developments about the Enron matter:
President Bush outlined proposed changes Saturday that are meant to ensure executives and employees have equal access to their 401(k) portfolios.
Without specifically addressing Enron, the president said in his weekly radio address, "We need to make sure that companies have a single standard for their executives and their employees." Details
The son and sister of former Enron CEO Kenneth L. Lay gained from extensive business dealings with the now-bankrupt energy trader, according to a report published Saturday.
The New York Times said legal experts agreed with Mark Lay and Sharon Lay that nothing improper took place in the transactions. But critics quoted by the paper said the transactions demonstrated how top Enron officials engaged in a pattern of conflict of interest over the years. Details
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., who chairs the Governmental Affairs Committee looking into Enron matter, told the Washington Post that he is rethinking his views on several key accounting issues, including his previous opposition to a proposal that would have required companies to count stock options for employees as a business cost.
But Lieberman, in an interview published Saturday, denied that he was unduly influenced in the past by campaign contributions from Enron and close relations with the accounting industry.
Harvey Pitt, Chairman of the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, declared his outrage Friday with the Enron Corp. scandal as he countered claims that his plan to overhaul the regulation of accounting firms as too soft.
Pitt, speaking the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in New York, said that the best remedy for market volatility was transparency, both for money managers and companies.
Pitt recently announced plans to reform the way accounting firms are regulated, including an overhaul of the peer review system. Former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, Pitt's predecessor, has criticized the proposal, saying it lacks "teeth," in part because it still includes peer review. Details
Four of the Big Five accounting firms said they will discontinue offering consulting and auditing services to the same client, a practice which came under scrutiny after Enron's collapse, according to a published report.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Arthur Andersen, Enron's former accountant, said they will no longer offer technology consulting and auditing to the same client. The firms also said they will not provide internal and external auditing services to the same customer as well, the New York Times reported Friday. Details
The White House said two candidates recommended for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay were appointed to the regulatory board.
The two were on a list of candidates Lay gave to President Bush's personnel director, Clay Johnson, last spring. "It was one of many, many recommendations that he (Johnson) received" from energy industry executives, members of Congress and state officials, White House spokeswoman Lee Ann Womack said in an interview.
Enron creditors are divided over which would be better: stock in a smaller electric and natural gas trading company or the complete liquidation of the bankrupt company.
"I certainly have no preconceived notions regarding Enron," Mike Moran, a retired in-house Enron lawyer who represents employees on the creditors committee appointed by the bankruptcy court, told the Associated Press.
Since Enron filed for bankruptcy protection in December, the company has used its two corporate jets for eight round-trip flights to New York, where the case was filed, according to a company spokesman.
Seven of the flights brought a total of 43 passengers to bankruptcy hearings before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez in New York. The other flight carried family and friends of former Enron vice chairman J. Clifford Baxter to his funeral in Amityville, N.Y.; Baxter was found dead Jan. 25 in an apparent suicide.