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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 23:21 GMT
Enron executive adds guilty plea
Enron sign
A number of former executives have now come forward
A former Enron finance executive has become the latest ex-member of staff to plead guilty to false accounting at the failed energy group.

Lawrence Lawyer has pleaded guilty to criminal charges relating to false income tax returns and failing to report taxable benefits.

The plea agreement requires Mr Lawyer, like a number of former colleagues before him, to help prosecutors investigating the multi-billion dollar collapse of Enron.

Last month, the group's former finance chief Andrew Fastow surrended to the FBI and was charged with fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in connection with the firm's downfall.

Domino effect

Mr Lawyer's plea comes as the 'domino effect' of guilty pleas gathers pace. As one executive surrenders, a 'cooperation' agreement is reached with prosecutors, leading to further arrests.

Reports suggest US federal prosecutors are building a case against the firm's former executives relying on the 'snitching' of lower-level executives in a bid to arrest the bigger fish.

Mr Fastow came forward for arrest in October, following the guilty plea of his former right-hand man Michael Kopper. Mr Kopper came forward in August and is believed to have revealed information about the actions of his former boss.

Enron spent 15 years building itself into one of the world's biggest energy companies. But its share price collapsed last year after it revealed that it had concealed huge losses by setting up shell companies.

A number of executives were implicated in the firm's murky finances, and reaped huge benefits for themselves in the process by cashing-in stock options when the share price was at its height.

Windy deal

Mr Lawyer was assigned to work on a deal involving a 'special purpose entity' called RADR, established to purchase interests in Californian wind farms.

But, according to reports, Mr Lawyer failed to report payments received from RADR on his tax returns. The charge of wilfully falsifying tax returns carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail.

Mr Lawyer worked under the now-indicted Mr Fastow, and has admitted not reporting 'kickbacks' or financial benefits which he received for his part in illegal deals which led to the firm's bankruptcy last December.


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22 Nov 02 | Business
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