Mudcat Café message #1381018 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1381018
Posted By: Amos
17-Jan-05 - 07:51 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
A NYTimes contributor scrutinizes the Enron settlement and finds it disgraceful:

What's $13 Million Among Friends?
By LUCIAN BEBCHUK

Published: January 17, 2005

        
        

Cambridge, Mass. TEN former directors of Enron have agreed to pay $13 million from their own pockets to settle a class action suit stemming from Enron's collapse in 2001, which wiped out some $60 billion in shareholder value. Because directors almost never have to pay even a penny in such suits, the Enron settlement - announced just days after several former WorldCom directors agreed to a similar deal - was widely viewed as a significant development that could discourage potential directors from serving on corporate boards.

This view is mistaken. A close look at the settlement shows that Enron's directors have still not been held accountable in any meaningful way.

Of the 18 former directors who were defendants in the Enron case, only 10 have to pay under the settlement. More important, according to the complaint against them, these 10 sold Enron shares worth more than $250 million during the period in which Enron was misreporting its financial affairs. According to the lawyer for the lead plaintiffs, the settlement requires each of these 10 to pay an amount equal to 10 percent of his or her pretax profits. They will be able to keep the other 90 percent - which amounts to $117 million - while investors who held their Enron stock lost their shirts.

The other eight Enron directors will not pay a penny but nonetheless have all claims against them settled. These directors did not sell shares before their value evaporated, which is presumably why they are not contributing. But they played important roles in the board's oversight failure. They include three of the six members of Enron's audit committee as well as six of the eight members of the finance committee, which reviewed many transactions that Enron used to deceive investors. Despite their role in the oversight failure, these eight directors emerge from Enron's ruins without having to pay a cent.

In a 2002 report, a Senate subcommittee concluded that by failing to protect shareholders' interests and ignoring questionable business practices, the Enron board "contributed to the company's collapse and bears a share of the responsibility for it." With the cases against them settled without any admission of wrongdoing, determining the directors' precise share of responsibility will be left to the judgment of history. But one thing will be clear: their share of the cost will be trivial. (Balance of article here...)