The Securities and Exchange Commission charged two former in-house attorneys at Enron with civil securities fraud Wednesday, as the agency continues to unravel a web of complex transactions and alleged corporate deception more than five years after the once high-flying energy company collapsed into bankruptcy.
The charges against Jordan Mintz, who was general counsel of Enron's global finance group, and Rex Rogers, the associate general counsel, were filed in a civil lawsuit in federal court in Houston.
Attorneys for Mintz and Rogers denied the SEC's allegations and said their clients will contest them.
The agency said they took part in a scheme to misrepresent transactions in Enron's financial statements. The SEC cited, notably, a venture once hidden in one of Enron's notorious off-the-books partnerships: Cuiaba, a power project in Brazil.
Andrew Fastow, Enron's now-imprisoned former finance chief, was accused of arranging in September 1999 for one of his LJM partnerships to pay $11.3 million for Enron's interest in the Cuiaba project. The sale was said to be a sham because LJM wasn't independent of Enron and the energy company reacquired the Cuiaba stake at a profit in a secret 2001 deal.
In addition, the SEC said that Rogers, who was once an enforcement attorney at the agency, played a role in Enron founder and chairman Kenneth Lay's failure to disclose sales of tens of millions of dollars of company stock in 2000 and 2001. Lay was convicted of 10 counts of criminal fraud, conspiracy and lying to banks in two separate cases on May 25 of last year and died of heart disease six weeks later. The conviction was voided after his death.
The SEC is seeking unspecified civil fines and restitution from Mintz and Rogers, and a ban against them serving as officers or directors of any public company.
During the period in question, Mintz had raised concerns within Enron about the company's dealings with Fastow's partnerships.
Mintz's attorney, Chris Mead, said that his client "denies the allegations and will fight them vigorously in court."
B. Michael Rauh, a lawyer representing Rogers, said: "Mr. Rogers is a person of great integrity and the highest moral character. He was never involved in any wrongdoing, and we look forward to vigorously defending (against) these baseless allegations."