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Tapes Hint Enron Execs Briefed on Energy Ploy

by Staff
CBS MarketWatch, May 18, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Enron's top executives might have known about the company's trading ploys that sparked California's energy crisis in 2000 and 2001, according to a published report.

Enron traders spoke of "stealing" up to $2 million a day from California through its handful of trading strategies that overstated electricity shortages and inflated prices, according to documents released by a Washington state utility and published by the Los Angeles Times.

The documents from a Snohomish County, Wash. utility suggest an Enron regulatory affairs official wanted to tout the results of the market-gaming ploys with former Enron Chairman Ken Lay and CEO Jeff Skilling.

It is unclear if the official shared the information in a planned budget presentation to senior Enron officials in Houston. At the meeting, the official wanted to show how valuable the regulatory affairs unit had been to the company's California operations, the LA Times reported.

In its ongoing investigation into Enron, the Justice Department charged three former traders with manipulating California's energy prices. Two pleaded guilty and are cooperating with federal prosecutors. A third awaits trial.

The 450 pages of documents released by the Seattle-area utility contain recorded conversations obtained by the Justice Department in its investigation, the paper said. The utility is seeking a refund for Enron's alleged overcharges during the California's electricity crisis.

Skilling was indicted earlier this year on multiple criminal fraud charges. None of the charges implicated him in the California energy scandal. Lay has not been charged with any wrongdoing in Enron's collapse.

Tapes Hint Enron Execs Briefed on Energy Ploy
CBS MarketWatch, May 18, 2004

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