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Lay to take Fifth at Senate hearing

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Kenneth Lay, the former chairman and CEO of Enron Corp., will exercise his Fifth Amendment right not to testify at a Senate hearing Tuesday, his spokeswoman told CNN on Sunday.

Lay made the decision "under the instruction of counsel," said Kelly Kimberly.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee subpoenaed Lay last week after he decided at the last minute not to voluntarily testify before a subcommittee hearing investigating the energy company's collapse.

Lay was scheduled to testify last Monday but canceled the appearance through his attorney, saying that "inflammatory statements" made on Sunday talk shows indicated some members of Congress already had made up their minds and that the hearings would have a "prosecutorial" tone.

The subpoena requires Lay to appear before the committee but cannot force him to testify.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, protects anyone from self-incrimination in any kind of proceeding -- judicial, civil, investigatory or congressional.

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Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling told the committee Thursday he was not aware the company was on the verge of collapse before his resignation, but his testimony was greeted with skepticism.

"Nobody does think he was telling the truth. I don't believe he thinks so," Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings said on CBS' "Face the Nation." Hollings, D-South Carolina, is chairman of the committee.

During testimony Thursday, Skilling insisted he had no idea the energy company was careening toward bankruptcy, drawing scoffs from lawmakers who accused him of knowing about questionable partnerships that hid losses and inflated profits.

He described himself as a "control freak," but added there was no way he could know everything about the company.

Rep. James Greenwood, R-Pennsylvania, said he "wanted to believe" Skilling but instead found his testimony to be untruthful.

"When he came on, he was so earnest, and talked about the fact his best friend [former Enron executive J. Clifford Baxter] had committed suicide and he wanted to be open," Greenwood told CBS.

"He came without need of a subpoena, he didn't take the Fifth ... but after that, he became non-credible. It was, 'The dog ate my homework.'"

The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Louisiana, said Skilling "really thought he was smarter than everybody in Washington." Tauzin's committee is also looking into the Enron collapse.

"He really thought ... he could come and just flamboozle us, just tell us anything he wanted and we would buy it," Tauzin said. "I'm afraid he may have put himself in some legal jeopardy as a result."




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