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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Enron directors plead innocence
Four Enron directors being sworn into a Senate hearing
The directors are trying to clear their names
Four Enron directors have washed their hands of any blame in the collapse of the energy giant.

The foursome told a US Senate committee they had been unable to oversee operations and deal with problems because both Enron executives and the firm's auditors hid key information from them.

But senators insisted that the directors must take some responsibility for the scandal and for failing to protect shareholders.

The directors were criticised by Senator Joseph Lieberman for having conflicts of interest, and by Senator Carl Levin for failing to ask sufficient questions about Enron's behaviour.

The failure of Enron, and its ability to effectively disguise its true financial position, has sent shock waves through almost all levels of corporate US.

Netting millions

The directors "must accept some of the blame for failing to uncover the crookedness in the company's behaviour and books," Mr Lieberman said.

"The board is not supposed to be a rubber stamp for auditors or attorneys," Mr Levin said.

The directors - Herbert Winokur, Robert Jaedicke, Charles LeMaistre and John Duncan - also face a lawsuit from angry shareholders.

And they face yet more wrath for having netted millions by selling out of their share options while many employees were not allowed to.

The news comes on the same day as the start of the trial of Enron's former accountants Arthur Andersen for their role in disguising losses.

It also coincides with new evidence suggesting that Enron manipulated the power market to make extra money out of California's energy crisis last year.


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03 Oct 01 | Americas
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