Committee: We don't believe Skilling was forthright
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The House Energy and Commerce Committee notified former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling on Thursday that new documents "appear to raise serious questions about the accuracy of your testimony" before the committee February 7.
The documents relate to efforts to restructure some outside partnerships, known as Special Purpose Entities, because of Enron's deteriorating stock price. The SPEs were backed by Enron stock and the falling price of the stock threatened its "creditworthiness." Investigators allege Enron used the off-the-book partnerships to hide losses.
The committee says those documents, which include interviews with three Enron employees, indicate that Skilling was involved in the restructuring and therefore indicates knowledge of financial problems.
In his testimony before the committee a few weeks ago, Skilling stated "on the day I left, I absolutely, unequivocally thought the company was in good shape." The committee, in a letter sent Thursday, said "documents obtained by the Committee suggest otherwise."
The committee asks Skilling to respond to various questions about what it calls conflicts in the testimony by March 7.
"We don't believe Jeffrey Skilling was forthright and we're going after him," said Ken Johnson, a spokesman for the committee.
Among the documents discussed was an interview with Ryan Siurek, who worked on Enron's Transaction Support Team. The interview indicates "it was Siurek's understanding that Skilling was the ultimate decision-maker concerning the restructuring."
The letter also refers to an interview with former Enron Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey, in which Causey claims "he advised [Skilling] of the Raptor credit capacity problems and his search for potential solutions, and that he obtained your approval for the final restructuring plan." Raptor was the name given to one of the outside partnerships.
In an interview on CNN's "Moneyline with Lou Dobbs," Skilling's lawyer, Bruce Hiler, said his client has always admitted to knowing about the partnerships but was not involved in the intimate details.
"You may have very strategic knowledge of what's going on," Hiler said Thursday. "You may have good knowledge of budget or budgeting process. It doesn't mean when someone structures the transactions, you get there and roll the sleeves and sharpen the pencil, do the pricing and negotiate the derivatives and sales. That is what the issues seem to be, and nobody expects the CEO to do that."
"Congress doesn't have a right to be basically accusing my client of failing by not negotiating transactions on behalf of the company or pushing the computer buttons and sharpening the pencils," Hiler said.
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