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Enron Whistle-Blower Resigns

Nov 15, 2002 | AP

Sherron Watkins, the vice president who spoke out about Enron’s accounting problems months before the energy trading powerhouse collapsed, is resigning from the company, a published report said.

HER RESIGNATION IS effective Friday, The New York Times reported, citing Watkins’ lawyer, Philip Hilder.

“It’s time that she pursues other opportunities and gets on with her life,†Hilder said.

A company spokesman told the paper that Watkins, an accountant who remained with the Houston-based firm throughout the scandal, was leaving voluntarily.

Enron, No. 7 on the Fortune 500 list of the biggest companies two years ago, filed for bankruptcy Dec. 2 after revealing a $618 million loss and eliminating $1.2 billion of shareholder equity.

Watkins, 43, is working on a book about Enron’s collapse. Friends said she would also like to create a corporate governance group to advise boards and to continue lecturing on corporate reform.

In August 2001, Watkins, an Enron employee for nearly a decade, wrote a letter to the company’s former chairman and CEO, Kenneth Lay, warning him about the company’s improper accounting practices. She predicted that if nothing was done Enron would “implode in a wave of accounting scandals.â€

She later testified before Congress and then became a prominent figure on the lecture circuit, speaking out about business ethics and the cause of Enron’s collapse.

Enron’s collapse was only the first in a series of corporate scandals that sent investors fleeing from a volatile stock market. Enron’s stock collapse destroyed employee retirement accounts, and the bankruptcy cost more than 4,500 workers their jobs.

Former Enron Corp. chief financial officer Andrew Fastow has pleaded innocent to a 78-count federal indictment charging him with masterminding complex financial schemes that enriched him and helped doom the company.

Fastow, 40, is free on $5 million bond. A pretrial conference has been set for Jan. 13 before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt.

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