Risk Management

DoJ Won’t Refloat “Enron Barge” Case

The decision involving former Merrill Lynch executives could affect the conviction of former Enron chief executive Jeff Skilling.
David KatzFebruary 16, 2007

The Justice Department will not seek to overturn last summer’s appeals court decision to throw out most of the convictions against former Merrill Lynch executives charged in the infamous Enron barge case, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Federal prosecutors had until Friday to appeal the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the newspaper.

Three of the former executives, however, reportedly could still be retried on charges of taking part in a sham deal to help Enron book bogus profits. They each served nearly a year in prison, but were released while awaiting the result of their appeals, the newspaper reported.

“While we review the matter before the district court, we remain committed to holding accountable those responsible for the massive frauds that accompanied the collapse of Enron,” Justice Department spokesperson Jaclyn Lesch told the Chronicle.

In August, the appeals court threw out the convictions for conspiracy and wire fraud against four former Merrill Lynch executives who in 2004 were found guilty of a 1999 scheme to improperly boost Enron’s earnings, according to the report. The appeals court said the fraud charge against James Brown, William Fuhs, Daniel Bayly, and Robert Furst was “flawed,” the Chronicle reported at the time. At the same time, the court upheld Brown’s conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

Former Enron finance executive Dan Boyle also was convicted for his role in the scheme. However, he chose not to appeal and is currently in prison.

The appeals ruling could also affect the conviction of former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling. He plans to bring up the issue in his appeal of his 2006 convictions, which his lawyers plan to file next month, according to the newspaper.