The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is one of the key regulators of Enron’s activities.
It was established in 1974 to regulate the growing market in “futures and derivatives” - speculative contracts which are bought and sold by traders as a hedge against price rises.
Originally most future trading related to physical commodities like the price of wheat or pigs, but in recent years much of it has been financial commodities like exchange rates.
Enron pioneered the trading of energy contracts for the supply of gas and electricity, which became the centrepiece of its business.
But the CFTC believed in “light-touch” regulation.
In 1993 the CFTC exempted such energy trades from its regulatory overview, a ruling that was confirmed in the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act.
The chair of the CFTC at the time was Wendy Gramm, the wife of prominent Texas Republican Senator Phil Gramm. She later joined the board of Enron.