culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Texas: scolded. California: fucked. Enron has become a one-word punch line, but it represents just one of several Texas energy companies that were all involved in same basic business: creating false profits that swindled consumers and simultaneously financed the campaigns of George W. Bush. The multibillion dollar energy crisis in California was engineered by a group of companies of which Enron is only the most well-known example.

Reliant is one company that fits the pattern perfectly — lying, thieving, screwing Californians, donating to Bush, and suffering no serious repercussions whatsoever (Nelson Antosh in the
Houston Chronicle):
Reliant Resources' bogus power trades and transactions designed to shift earnings from one period to the next have drawn the minimum punishment from securities regulators.

Putting an end to a near yearlong investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a cease-and-desist order Monday against Reliant Resources and Reliant Energy, now CenterPoint Energy.

The Houston-based companies received no fines or other penalties.

Neither company admits nor denies the agency's findings of reporting and record-keeping violations and securities fraud in the settlement that was advanced by the companies.

The 17 round-trip trades between 1999 and 2001 involved the same-day purchase and sale of power, to the same company at the same price.

For the most part, these trades resulted in no profit or loss to either side, the commission said.

"Instead, the trades were designed for the sole purpose of increasing trading volumes to improve respondents' standing in the gas and power trading rankings in industry publications," according to the commission.

These were giant transactions, ranging from 30 times to 46 times the size of a normal large trade.
An article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) adds the following details:
The SEC said its probe showed that Reliant, starting in 1999, set out to become one of the nation's top-tier traders. The company arranged so-called wash trades with smaller competitors, buying and selling identical amounts of electricity or gas at identical prices on the same days. These transactions boosted revenue and trading volumes without lifting earnings.

During the period from 1999 through 2001, Reliant did 17 "wash" trades for a total of 134.43 million megawatt hours of electricity, with the average false trade, by the end of 2001, nearly 50 times the size of a normal large trade.

With that push, investigators said, Reliant was lifted from the No. 10 position in electricity trading to No. 7 by 1999, to No. 5 by 2000 and, finally, to No. 3 by 2001, when widespread allegations of trading improprieties began unraveling the wholesale-electricity market. Among gas traders, it was lifted to No. 7 from No. 8 through a smaller number of fake trades.
Fake, fake, fake. In two years, Reliant went from No. 7 to No. 3 in electricity trading on the basis of... nothing at all.

And yet these unfined and unpunished frauds were useful to someone else — George W. Bush. The architects of Reliant's brilliant fake business plan, former Reliant CEOs Don D. Jordan and R. Steve Letbetter are both Bush Pioneer donors, having raised well over $100,000 each.

No fines, no penalties, not even the sound of another shoe dropping.

Texas swindled California and gave the crooked money in record amounts to its governor to run for president.

⇒ Additional resources: Reliant's corporate home page and a post on the fake California energy crisis.

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

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