Congressional Panel Handing Out Subpoenas to Enron

Subpoenas will be served on Enron and its auditor, the accounting firm Andersen, as well as 49 individual officers, employees, and members of Enron's board of directors. Robert Bennett, a lawyer representing Enron on Capitol Hill, said he was aware of the subpoena plan. He said Enron was "fully cooperating" with the subcommittee. "Not only am I aware of this, I told them a week ago they didn't need to issue subpoenas, that we'd be happy to produce whatever documents they want," Bennett said in a statement. "I don't think it was at all necessary to issue subpoenas. I also told them, and they agreed, that I will accept service of these subpoenas. So, they're just going to send them to me."

Last week, the subcommittee joined four other congressional panels, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the departments of Justice and Labor in probing Enron.

Another congressional hearing into Enron is scheduled for January 24, 2002 before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, of which the permanent subcommittee is a part. The two are pursuing separate lines of inquiry. "The subcommittee is looking into the role of the officers and board members, the role of the auditors, and the role of special-purpose entities," or the financial partnerships set up by Enron to keep certain debts off its books. These topics closely resemble those being probed by the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee, which have already held hearings, as well as the House and Senate Energy committees.

The subcommittee did not name the 49 individuals who will be served with subpoenas, but congressional sources said they would likely include Andrew Fastow, former Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling, and current Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay, as well as members of Enron's large board of directors. Enron, Andersen, and the 49 individuals would have "several weeks" to respond to the subpoenas.