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Jan 07
2003

Big Banks: Enron's Helpers in Fraud?

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan have paid $324 million to settle claims accusing them of helping Enron perpetrate a fraud against investors and the American public. Claims are still pending against Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Canadian Imperial.

Beyond the settlements, these banks may loose much more than they can possibly afford-their status as a "secured creditor." That would cost them billions.
A vice chairman of J.P. Morgan admitted, "We have made mistakes," but, generally, the banks claim they were victims of Enron, too.
However, Neil Batson, the court-appointed bankruptcy examiner in the Enron case, paints a much darker picture than that of innocent-sounding "mistakes." He charges these banks, led by Citigroup and J.P. Morgan, the two largest in the world, knowingly participated in Enron's massive party in fraud.
Batson says that Citigroup engineered deals that helped Enron disguise its loans as revenue- and that 76 percent of Enron's cash flow in 1997 showed up in this sham.
"In participating in many of Enron's transactions," Batson wrote, "Citigroup appears to have violated or ignored its own guidelines for appropriateness." He said the banks "had actual knowledge of (Enron's) wrongful conduct".
Stephen Cutler, an SEC enforcement officer, commented, "You can't turn a blind eye to the consequences of your actions-if you know…that you are helping a company mislead investors, (then) you are committing a fraud."
If the allegations are proven, then the banks, and the senior managers who knowingly took part, deserve the harshest penalties. They need to be held accountable for the loss of billions in the loans they made. While these banks "partied," by raking in hundreds of millions in fees, they were sowing the seed for billions in ultimate losses.
The scriptural perspective-"He who perverts will be found out." -King Solomon, Proverbs 10:9 NASB- "… the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished." -Moses, Numbers 1:3 NASB. When our morals are challenged in business, we should remember King Solomon, who said-"If sinners entice you, do not consent" (Proverbs 1:10)- and Job, who said, "To depart from evil (shows) understanding" (Job 28:28).

To which we might add-"Just Say No!"

Steve Marr, Your Christian business Coach

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