Source: Ex-Enron CFO To Be ChargedOct 1, 2002 | AP
Federal prosecutors plan to bring criminal charges as early as Wednesday against Andrew Fastow, Enron's former chief financial officer, a law enforcement source said Tuesday.
Fastow, said to be the financial mastermind behind Enron's complex web of off-the-books partnerships used to hide some $1 billion in debt from shareholders and federal regulators, is the most prominent company figure targeted so far by the Justice Department.
In August, a once-trusted Fastow aide, Michael Kopper, pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Kopper said in federal court in Houston that it was Fastow who provided loans for investments, received kickbacks or negotiated deals that benefited the partnerships rather than Enron.
The law enforcement source, speaking only on condition of anonymity, did not specify the nature of the anticipated charges against Fastow or whether they would take the form of a grand jury indictment or a criminal complaint by Justice that would present some of the government's evidence against him.
Fastow's spokesman, Gordon Andrew, declined comment. His attorney, John Keker, did not immediately return a telephone call.
Fastow, who invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify before Congress early this year, reaped an estimated $30 million from the partnerships. He emerged as a central figure in the Enron scandal after the big energy-trading company, with ties to President Bush and members of his administration, collapsed into bankruptcy last December.
Enron's stunning downfall, bringing the retirement savings of employees with it and wiping out the investments of pension funds and individuals nationwide, became the first in a series of corporate accounting scandals at big companies that rocked investors' confidence and the stock market.
Enron's board of directors approved the partnerships as well as a waiver from conflict-of-interest rules for Fastow.
The expected action against Fastow raises the question of what he would say about former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling and former chairman Kenneth Lay if Fastow were to begin cooperating with the government at some point.