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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 16:50 GMT
From energy minister to Enron director
Lord Wakeham
Lord Wakeham joined Enron as a non-executive director
Lord Wakeham has stepped aside as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission to answer questions over his links with the collapsed energy giant Enron. BBC News Online looks at his involvement with the company.

Lord Wakeham was appointed energy secretary by Margaret Thatcher in 1989 to steer through privatisation of the electricity industry.

In 1989 he awarded a 700 million contract to Enron to build a Teesside power station.

At the time, Enron was considered to be at the cutting edge of the world's biggest private energy market in the United States.

In 1994, two years after retiring as energy minister, the Conservative peer joined Enron as a non-executive director.

Move to dismiss

The former provincial accountant reportedly earned 80,000-a-year as a member of the board's all-important audit and compliance committee.

It was supposed to act as a watchdog protecting shareholders' interests and appoint accountants to conduct an audit.

Last November Lord Wakeham was the subject of a failed attempt by American trade unions to have him ejected from the audit committee. One month later the company was declared bankrupt.

The AFL-CIO, the union which represents most Enron employees, called into question his independence as a member of the audit committee because of his additional role as a consultant to Enron Europe, for which he was paid $6,000 a month.

'Active co-operation'

He also owned about 20,000 shares worth $1.9m in 2000. Unlike some other Enron directors, he did not cash in his shares before the company went under.

AFL-CIO has reportedly written to a number of companies where he holds directorships, asking them not to renew them unless he can show he personally took "meaningful steps" to protect Enron investors.

The union is also said to be planning to make a formal complaint to the Institute of Chartered Accountants about Lord Wakeham's conduct.

The former energy minister said on Thursday that he was "co-operating actively" with the inquiry into Enron's collapse.


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31 Jan 02 | Politics
31 Jan 02 | Politics
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