Two top Merrill Lynch & Co. executives have been fired for declining to testify in federal investigations into financial transactions the nation’s largest brokerage conducted with Enron Corp. in 1999.
Thomas W. Davis, Merrill Lynch’s vice chairman, and Schuyler Tilney, an investment banking managing director who directly oversaw corporate finance matters related to Enron, both declined to testify for investigations being conducted by the Justice Department ( news – web sites) and the Securities and Exchange Commission ( news – web sites), Merrill Lynch said in a statement Wednesday.
Merrill Lynch said it uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing by Davis and Tilney, but fired them in keeping with its policy “requiring employees to fully cooperate with regulatory and law enforcement investigations.”
A Merrill Lynch spokesman declined further comment.
Davis had been scheduled to retire in November. Tilney had been on paid leave from Merrill Lynch since July, when he invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify before Congress about the firm’s relationship with Enron.
Tilney said his lawyer had advised them against commenting while the Justice Department probes the relationship.
Davis’ lawyer, Thomas Fitzpatrick, said he recommended that his client invoke his right not to testify.
“It’s our position that Tom Davis is totally innocent, but in this post-Enron environment, it was my advice to do the cautious thing,” Fitzpatrick said.
Tilney originally answered questions for staff members of the congressional subcommittee, but was advised not to testify before the subcommittee after learning that the Justice Department was investigating a transaction.
He said at the time that he was “profoundly saddened” about his decision not to testify.
Tilney’s lawyer, Robert Trout, said Wednesday that his client has done nothing wrong.
“Mr. Tilney did nothing improper, and Merrill Lynch has consistently stated that it is not aware of any evidence that its employees acted improperly with Enron,” Trout said.