‘Troubled’ former Enron boss holds his tongue

Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation each took to the soapbox to voice their opinions and direct their anger and questions at Lay who sometimes nodded in recognition or remained stony faced.

After speaking of his ‘profound sadness about what happened’, the former Enron chief pleaded protection under the Fifth Amendment. ‘I am deeply troubled about asserting these rights because it may seem I have something to hide,’ he said.

Lay went on to point out that one of the purposes of the Fifth is to protect innocent people and added: ‘I respectfully ask you not to draw a negative inference.’

This was after senator Ron Wyden had noted that for the first time, yesterday’s papers contained reports suggesting that Lay was directly involved in setting up the LJM 2 partnership, one of the off-balance sheet SPVs allowing Enron to raise debt.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said: ‘Nobody believes Andersen invented this type of accounting.’ He noted that this fact had sent shivers through the markets and suggested the legitimacy of other high profile companies’ partnerships should be examined.

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