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ECONOMICS REPORT - Enron Officials in Court - 2004-01-29

Broadcast: January 30, 2004

This is Bob Doughty with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

The large American energy services company, Enron, failed two years ago. It had been the seventh largest company in the United States. More than twenty people have been charged with financial crimes related to the company’s hidden debt, inflated profits and accounting tricks.

On January twenty-second, Enron’s former chief accounting officer faced charges of helping Enron cheat investors and others. Richard Causey said he is not guilty. He says he believed all of Enron’s financial records were correct. He says he followed rules called the Generally Accepted Accounting Standards.

The government says Mister Causey used his knowledge of accounting to make Enron look profitable. The government says Mister Causey sought to gain from his actions by causing the price of Enron stock to increase.The government has charged Mister Causey with planning businesses related to Enron, called partnerships. Enron used financial exchanges with partnerships to hide big financial losses. The government says these exchanges do not meet the requirements for real business exchanges. This is because only Enron’s money was at risk.

Mister Causey is an important person in the Enron case. The charges came soon after another top official of Enron agreed to a deal.

Andrew Fastow was the chief financial officer at Enron. On January fourteenth, he admitted guilt for two criminal acts. He will be sentenced to ten years in prison. Fastow had faced more than ninety separate charges. The deal depends on evidence he will offer in the future.

Fastow admitted that he hid the financial situation at Enron by using partnerships. He admitted using partnerships for his own gain. He has been forced to return more than twenty-three-million dollars and other property to the government. Lea Fastow, Mister Fastow’s wife, also admitted to one charge of avoiding taxes on money made from one partnership.

Fastow and other former Enron officials have admitted guilt. They are expected to give evidence that will be used against Mister Causey.

What is different between the two cases is that Mister Fastow has admitted to cheating Enron. Mister Causey is charged with cheating investors and others.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. This is Bob Doughty.