Washington: In a series of memorandums to high-ranking Enron executives that began nearly a year before the company's collapse, a senior lawyer warned about the appearance of sweetheart deals and dubious transactions, The New York Times has reported.
The lawyer, Jordan Mintz, proposed several ways to correct the problems, according to the memorandums, which have been given to investigators of the house energy and commerce committee.
But Mintz's warnings were largely unheeded, committee investigators say, and his memorandums, figured prominently in one of the three Congressional committee hearings on 7 February, provide fresh evidence about when top Enron executives knew that there were problems with financial partnerships that are now at the centre of the sprawling Congressional and criminal investigations into the company's collapse.
Mintz was the main witness before the energy committee on 7 February, when it also heard testimony from Jeffrey K Skilling, Enron's former chief executive. It is not known whether Mintz's concerns were relayed to Skilling or to Kenneth L Lay, the company's former chairman and chief executive. Both men have said they knew few details about the partnerships, although an investigation by the Enron board reported that Skilling's denials had been contradicted by other executives.
At least four other current or former Enron executives, including Andrew S Fastow, the former chief financial officer, and Michael J Kopper appeared and exercised their Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination. Fastow and Kopper were sharply criticised in the board report for a series of transactions with the partnerships that earned them millions of dollars.