By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Securities regulators yesterday sued two former Enron Corp. lawyers for allegedly participating in the devastating fraud and helping other executives at the Houston energy trader to mislead investors about financial setbacks and stock sales.
The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Jordan H. Mintz, who served as general counsel to the global finance unit, and Rex R. Rogers, a former associate general counsel, of violating antifraud laws. Each of them earned more than $1.5 million in 2001, the year Enron collapsed into bankruptcy. SEC officials are seeking financial penalties and orders that would bar the men from serving as officers or directors of a publicly traded company.
"Mr. Mintz and Mr. Rogers were right there participating in and aiding and abetting Enron's massive fraud," said Fredric D. Firestone, an associate SEC enforcement director.
Mintz, 50, provided legal advice to a business unit operated by Andrew S. Fastow, the finance chief whose off-the-books deals helped Enron generate improper revenue and conceal billions in debt. Mintz failed to disclose what he knew or was reckless in not knowing about a sham deal between Fastow and Enron, according to the complaint. Mintz came to public attention for flagging questions about the propriety of Fastow's actions and his outsized compensation.
Chris Mead, a lawyer for Mintz who practices in the District, said, "Jordan denies the charges and intends to fight them vigorously in court. If you can find someone at Enron who did more to regulate the relationship between Fastow and Enron, please let me know who it is."
Rogers, 58, is a former SEC enforcement lawyer who reviewed Enron's public disclosures and securities filings. According to court papers, Rogers passed off on inadequate and incorrect information that Enron provided to investors. He also allegedly failed to push former chairman and chief executive Kenneth L. Lay to reveal tens of millions of dollars in stock sales that Lay made using an Enron line of credit in the company's waning months.
B. Michael Rauh, a Washington defense lawyer for Rogers, said, "He was never involved in any wrongdoing and we look forward to vigorously defending these baseless allegations."
The SEC case against the corporate lawyers follows a string of Enron criminal convictions, and the agency said its Enron investigation is continuing.