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Senator says Enron not cooperating with Congress



By Kate Snow
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Four days before the former CEO of Enron Corp. is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill, the head of a Senate panel looking into the energy company's collapse said Enron is not cooperating.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, said Thursday that Enron has not complied with his request for additional documents detailing the energy firm's outside partnerships -- including a list of the partners, who held a stake in them, how much they were paid and what Enron's board of directors may have known about them.

There are nine Enron-related hearings scheduled on Capitol Hill next week. Dorgan's subcommittee will have the first shot at former Enron Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay, who is scheduled to appear before the panel at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

"It's very important for Congress to be able to do its work, to fully investigate what has happened here, for us to have information about all of these partnerships," Dorgan said.

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"These off-the-books partnerships with strange sounding names are very important in terms of us understanding what has happened. We have not, at this point, received cooperation from the corporation in getting this information. We again we renew our request -- that Congress is going to insist on and need this information in order to complete its investigation," he said.

Texas-based Enron filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history last year. In October, the company was forced to disclose that it had concealed more than $500 million in debt from related partnerships led by company executives. Its stock, once traded at nearly $90 a share, sank to less than $1 a share.

Top executives sold millions of dollars worth of shares before the stock plunge, while thousands of lower-level employees who were barred from selling company stock from their 401 (k) plans suffered devastating losses in their retirement savings. The Justice Department and other federal agencies, as well as several congressional committees, are investigating the company.

Dorgan's Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs has received 41 boxes of documents from Enron. Those are the same documents received by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which held the first hearings on Enron last week.

Judging by the tone of Thursday's news conference, Lay won't have an easy ride at Monday's hearing.

"Secrecy will not stand," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

"This corporation resorted to a variety of legal, regulatory and accounting contortions to keep investors and the public in the dark," Wyden added. "It is now high time for the Congress to flip on the light and get to the bottom of this situation."

Lay will sit alone at the witness table for Monday's Senate hearing. He is also expected to attend a later hearing of a House subcommittee. And Dorgan said Jeffrey Skilling, another former Enron CEO, also will testify before his committee -- but not on Monday.

He has also requested an appearance by former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andy Fastow, who was a partner in one of the company's outside partnerships and was compensated an estimated $30 million for his role. Fastow has not responded to that request.



 
 
 
 



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