The members of Enron Corp.'s board of directors contributed to the firm's collapse by failing to curb the Houston energy trader's risky accounting tactics, approving conflicts of interest, and rubber-stamping enormous cash payouts to executives, according to a harshly worded Senate report to be released today.

"The board witnessed numerous indications of questionable practices by Enron management over several years, but chose to ignore them to the detriment of Enron shareholders, employees, and business associates," the report said.

"The evidence shows that the board knowingly went along with Enron's high risk accounting and off-the-books deceptions," said Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations.

The report comes on the eve of Senate consideration of a package of reforms aimed at correcting accounting and other corporate governance weaknesses uncovered since Enron's December bankruptcy and the implosion of the stocks of several other major companies.

Levin said in an interview Friday that he plans to offer an amendment on the Senate floor giving the Securities and Exchange Commission the power to impose civil fines against auditors, officers and directors without having to seek court approval.

The subcommittee report notes that Enron board members received $350,000 in cash and stock for their work in 2000, about double what directors earn at most publicly traded companies. Some members held lucrative consulting contracts that paid them even more, and Enron made hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to charities and projects in which others were active.

The report cites at least a dozen "red flags" since February 1999 that investigators say should have spurred board members to act. They include a notice by auditors that Enron was using accounting methods that "push limits," and requests to waive the company's conflict-of-interest policy so that chief financial officer Andrew S. Fastow could develop and control partnerships that did business with Enron.

The unraveling of some of those partnerships, which were used to move millions in debt off the company's books, forced Enron last fall to correct its financial statements since 1997 and eventually file for bankruptcy. The report blasts the board for approving some of the entities, including one called the Raptors, which it referred to as "the accounting gimmick that finally brought down all of Enron."

W. Neil Eggleston, a lawyer for the board members, said the report "unfairly criticizes" the board members, who he said were repeatedly misled by Enron managers and outside auditors.

The subcommittee took particular umbrage at the board's failure to monitor the compensation of Enron executives, including longtime Enron chairman Kenneth L. Lay's "abuse" of a personal credit line, through which he withdrew $77 million in cash from 2000 to 2001 and repaid it from his Enron stock holdings.

At first, Lay would draw on the $4 million line of credit once a month, then every two weeks and then, at times, several days in a row. He still owes the company $7 million, the report said.

It also criticized the board for signing off on $430 million in routine annual bonuses and an additional $320 million to 65 top executives for meeting stock performance targets in early 2001 for work in 2000, when the firm's reported net income was $975 million. "Apparently no one on the compensation committee ever added up the numbers," the report said.

In the past few months, all of Enron's board members have resigned. The Justice Department is probing the conduct of several of Enron's former executives.

"This report shows how important it is for the Senate to pass legislation promptly to strengthen accounting oversight, toughen the laws that punish corporate misconduct, and send the message that honest accounting and responsible corporate conduct are critical to a strong economy," Levin said.

Roger W. Raber, president of the National Association of Corporate Directors, said the Enron scandal already has pushed board members to do more. But the impetus for reform should come from the stock exchanges and boards themselves, rather than Congress, he said.

"They missed some very important clues," Charles M. Elson, head of the Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, said of Enron's board. "In the future people are going to have a heightened sensitivity to those clues. This has created a very healthy skepticism vis-a{grv}-vis management."