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Enron Needs to be Back on the Front Page

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 commentator.

Dallas, TX – Though the Enron scandal might not be making front-page news right now, the investigation is going strong. Everyday there is new news, more finger-pointing, and other repercussions. I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Middays.

Just today, Bloomberg news exposed that they heard from reliable sources that more names would be added to the list of defendants being sued by Enron investors and former employees. On Monday, when they will be amending their law suits alleging fraud, law firms and as many as eight banks will now appear along side the names of Enron and Arthur Andersen. The plaintiffs feel that these law firms and banks knew, or should have known, what the heck was going on. These firms all had to review financial statements on Enron. Based on the legal experts that Bloomberg spoke with, these ex-employees and investors have an uphill battle, to say the least. Even if a bank or law firm knew the Enron financial statements were wrong, if they said nothing publicly to mislead, there's no case.

On the other hand, today's Dow Jones Newswire reported that the Washington Post said that the Securities and Exchange Commission, along with Enron creditors, is calling for "an outside examiner with special powers to investigate Enron's ties to Wall Street banks." Maybe the same banks that will be named on Monday? This "outside examiner with special powers" is also being requested to look at Enron's "off-book partnerships and deals that led to its demise." These "special powers" better be pretty special. It seems that in spite of all, the cries for justice, and as Fortune magazine boldly screams, "Send them to Jail," deals are already being made.

The Department of Justice, according to today's Wall Street Journal, is "willing to consider a deal to settle" the criminal obstruction case against Arthur Andersen. One stipulation, Andersen, in some form needs to admit, "it illegally shredded documents." Thank goodness, this is not a done deal.

Maybe it's time we bring Enron back to the front page. For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 P.M.