Risk & Compliance

Lay Finishes Testimony

"I did everything I could humanly do" to save Enron, the ex-chairman tells the jury.
Stephen TaubMay 2, 2006

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Calling the company’s collapse “the most painful thing in my life,” the former Enron Corp. chairman Kenneth Lay left the witness stand after a final testy exchange with federal prosecutor John Hueston, the Associated Press reported. Hueston reportedly scoffed at earlier statements in which Lay said he took responsibility for what happened at but not for any criminal activity.

“Sir, you have a long list of people to blame for Enron’s collapse, sir, and it gets longer and longer as you testify,” Hueston said, according to the wire service. “And your list of people to blame and events to blame did not include yourself, did it, sir?”

Lay reportedly responded: “I did everything I could humanly do during this time. Did I make mistakes? I’m sure I did, Mr. Hueston. I had to make real-time decisions based on the information I had at the time.”

Lay, who told the court again that his net worth is now negative $250,000, explained for a second time that that he used a revolving credit line with Enron to sell $70 million of Enron stock in 2001 to meet a margin call at banks pressuring him to repay personal loans, according to the paper.

Lay also denied that handwritten notes that introduced into evidence by prosecutors on Monday showed that he was aware of the dealings of CFOs Andrew Fastow’s LJM partnerships earlier than he has admitted, according to an account by the Chronicle. Lay told jurors the notes were a “chronology of events leading to (Enron’s).”

Lay’s own attorney, Mac Secrest, also asked Lay about the prosecution’s charges he tried to tamper with witnesses when he attempted to contact several people during the trial, according to the Chronicle. “I was trying to see if they would meet with my lawyers,” Lay reportedly explained. He admitted that he asked former Enron risk manager Vince Kaminski to meet for “a cup of coffee . . . to discuss the case.” Kaminkski, however, turned him down.

Lay also reportedly said getting witnesses to testify on his behalf has “been incredibly difficult, almost impossible. Each time they are contacted by the FBI and they won’t talk to us.”

Once Lay left the stand, the defense called a series of character witnesses, including former Houston mayor Bob Lanier; retired Navy admiral George E.R. Kinnear Jr., with whom Lay worked at the Pentagon; and Drayton McLane, the owner of the Houston Astros, according to the Chronicle.

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