Monday 12 July 2010

Enron and the Corruption of the US Justice System

Long-suffering readers of C@W will know that I have *ahem* a special interest in Enron. I've been known to contrast the punitive treatment meted out to Jeff Skilling for his misleading of investors, with the lack of any sort of punishment for most of the banking reprobates, many of whom must have done far worse.

Here's a rather unusual new website which, in a very measured documentary fashion
(and with very high-quality production values), is dedicated to highlighting what it believes to be the fairly gross abuse of the US criminal justice system that was the Enron Task Force, which was seeking to have Lay and Skilling incarcerated by any means available.

I guess we all realise that plea-bargaining is potentially a pretty rum do, but see what Ken Lay's attorney Mike Ramsey has to say about it - if you have a bit of spare time, because this is not for those of short attention-span.



Steven_L said...

Suffering? On the contrary Nick, I'll go fetch a bottle of cheap plonk and settle down for a night in front of the laptop now you've found me something to watch.

Nick Drew said...

that's the spirit !

will be interested to learn what you think

James Higham said...

Yes but the banking reprobates are the supervisory body.

Steven_L said...

I haven't managed it all tonight Nick, but got through Barbara's and Mike Ramsey's videos.

I've never been involved with a fraud case this big, and doubt anyone in the UK has. I do, however have a few observations.

In the UK, we don't have a 5th ammendment, although we might have something similar, I really don't know. This whole thing about defence not being allowed access to witnesses does stink. I'm led to believe in the UK witnesses can be forced to give evidence and treated as 'hostile' if they seem in any way reluctant (i.e the brief can treat you like s**t).

On the defence not being allowed to see evidence until the last minute, this stinks in this kind of trial too. We serve the defence with all the evidence 2 weeks before the start. In a trial like this you'd want 2 months or more. We get requests for pre-interview disclosure too. Seasoned crooks use this to construct a defence, but for a trading offence it makes sense for the directors to have a chance to review the documents before interview.

On plea bargaining - I detest it, I also detest the whistleblower rules the OFT and FSA have started using. We don't have US style plea bargaining, but it's not unknown for prosecutors to add more serious offences (like fraud) to charge sheets in the hope that a deal can be struck they'll plead guilty to less serious trading offences in return for having the ones you'll get time for dropped. This stinks a bit too.

On the key allegation that the prosecution has made their mind up that someone is guilty before they've even bagn their investigation - this is the bain of investigators everywhere. Managers do have a habit of telling you to 'nick' someone as oppossed to 'investigate' them.

TBH, this kind of thing is too big and complex for a criminal investigation to work. It needs a public enquiry, just like we need a public enquiry into the financial crisis (but will probably never get one).

As for his clsoing remarks about losing our liberty internally. I disagree, I think we are losing it externally to unaccountable supranational bodies such as the EU, WHO (smoking bans), UN (carbon trading) and now BASEL (banking regulation).

Anonymous said...

Old BE said...

Everything I know about Enron was gleaned from these pages and from The Musical. The Musical had slightly flashier lighting, but was less informative...

Nick Drew said...

there's a Circle of Hell for them too, James (and for G.Brown who told them to turn a blind eye)

thanks for the notes, Steven. On your last para; (a) Stateside, they approach international bodies differently - so their worries may indeed be more internal; (b) I trust we are undergoing a bit of a turnaround under the Coalition in this regard- though clearly not enough, while we are still contributing to the CAP ! But there are signs the new govt is putting up the shutters to suggestions like an EU banking tax etc: and Jacques Delors new 'Common Energy Policy' wheeze should get two fingers also

BE - I will get Mr Q to set my outpourings to music & post on YouTube ... (or perhaps a Downfall clip)