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Date Issue Title
28th Jun 2004 Other Issue Enron ex-boss breaks his silence

Report
Kenneth Lay, Enron's former chief executive, has spoken out for the first time since the 2001 scandal that shook corporate America to the core.

Mr Lay blamed the fraud on his finance chief, claiming to be one of the 98% of Enron employees who were "good, honest, hardworking individuals".

Prosecutors have been trying to build a case against Mr Lay for over two years.

The government is expected to announce whether or not it will press charges in the coming days.

Enron, once a highly respected energy trading firm, went bust in December 2001 after it emerged that the company had concealed millions of dollars in debts.

Andrew Fastow, the firm's chief financial officer, devised complex partnerships to hide the true state of affairs from investors. He has since pleaded guilty and accepted a 10-year prison sentence.

Prosecutors have been trying to broaden the case to Mr Lay who knew about the partnerships and was warned by middle-managers that they were based on false accounting methods.

As the depths of Enron's murky finances became clear - and tens of thousands of employees lost their jobs and pensions - Mr Lay was vilified by the press, not least because of his close relationship with President George W. Bush.

Mr Lay refused to testify before various committees and inquiries on Capitol Hill and has previously limited his comments about the Enron affair to expressing his "profound sadness".

Now he has broken that silence in an interview with the New York Times lasting more than six hours, in which he claimed that his friendship with the president had worked against him.

"If anything, being friends with the Bush family, including the president, has made my situation more difficult... because it's probably a tougher decision not to indict me than to indict me."

Mr Lay did, however, accept that as chief executive of the company he must ultimately be held accountable for what happened.

But he continues to deny that he was knowingly involved in criminal activity.

Many commentators have expressed disbelief that the corruption at the firm did not go right to the very top.

Mr Lay has also been heavily criticised for selling his own Enron stock while encouraging his staff to hold on to theirs.

Mr Lay, who now works as a consultant for two start-up firms in Houston, says his personal fortune has declined from $400m to less than $1m, legal bills notwithstanding.

"I know in my mind I did nothing wrong and nothing criminal," he told the New York Times.

"If it [my indictment] does happen, it's a great miscarriage of justice."

Other Reports on Enron
Date Issue Company Report
26th Sep 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Fastow gets six-year term
13th Aug 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Prosecutors raise Enron boss fine
25th May 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Lay and Skilling guilty
15th May 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Enron bosses 'stole to pump egos'
11th May 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Judge deals blow to Enron accused
26th Apr 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Enron feared witch hunt, Lay says
24th Apr 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Lay 'devastated' by Enron failure
18th Apr 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Skilling defends Enron share sale
13th Apr 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Skilling slams Enron prosecutors
12th Apr 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Enron 'held no cookie jar fund'
11th Apr 2006 Questionable Practice Enron Skilling denies cover-up at Enron
10th Apr 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron I'm innocent says ex-Enron chief
3rd Apr 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Key Enron witness 'lied in court'
22nd Mar 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Enron treasurer tells of 'lies'
16th Mar 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Enron whistleblower condemns Lay
14th Mar 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Key Enron witness 'duped bosses'
9th Mar 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Lay 'lied about Enron finances'
7th Mar 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Enron bosses hid massive losses
1st Mar 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Enron 'pretty fast and loose with its rules'
27th Feb 2006 Fraud Investigation Enron Enron money man 'raided reserves'
13th May 2005 Fraud Investigation Enron Former Enron executive sentenced
9th Jan 2005 Fraud Investigation Enron Enron bosses agree $168m payout
3rd Nov 2004 Fraud Investigation Enron Convictions in Enron fraud trial

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