Federal prosecutors will try two ex-Enron (ENRNQ) officials and four former Merrill Lynch (MER) employees together for allegedly creating a sham sale of Nigerian barges that allowed Enron to inflate its earnings, a judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Wednesday refused requests to try the defendants separately. They had claimed they would be prejudiced by evidence against the others.
The judge also denied a number of requests from the six defendants set to be tried June 7 in Houston. All have pleaded innocent to conspiracy and other charges in connection with the Nigerian barge deal.
Okay, I have to ask again: why are federal prosecutors trying "officials" and "employees" of Enron and Merrill Lynch, when they indicted the entire 80,000-person firm of Arthur Andersen, only a handful of whom had anything to do with the Enron fiasco?* Similarly, why aren't Jeff Skilling or Ken Lay in jail yet?
I'm not suggesting Andersen individuals aren't culpable, but why is the auditor held to a higher standard than the fraudsters?
If Andersen the auditor was annihilated by the feds, shouldn't Enron the perpetrator (that faked the barges) and Merrill Lynch the investment bank (that bought an interest in the fake barges) be destroyed too?
*I know, rhetorical questions are a pain. The theory that's been promoted here often enough is that Andersen the firm was indicted lock, stock, and shredder because, with the intention of killing two birds with one stone, the feds' elimination of Arthur Andersen had the twin effect of deflecting media attention away from Enron at the moment it would have been hottest, and simultaneously destroying all the records of Andersen's financial audits of Halliburton while its CEO was Dick Cheney.