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CBS Airs Tapes of Enron Traders Scheming and Gloating
Published on Wednesday, June 2, 2004 by USA Today
CBS Airs Tapes of Enron Traders Scheming and Gloating
 

CBS News has aired audio tapes that it says give audiences a listen into Enron traders scheming to manipulate California's troubled energy market.

The tapes, which CBS says came from Enron's West Coast trading desk, in one instance appear to involve deals to drive up prices by ordering power plants shut down:

"If you took down the steamer, how long would it take to get it back up?" an Enron worker is heard saying.

"Oh, it's not something you want to just be turning on and off every hour. Let's put it that way," another says.

"Well, why don't you just go ahead and shut her down."

The traders also seem to celebrate the manipulation.

"He just f—-s California," one Enron employee is heard saying, according to the Web site. "He steals money from California to the tune of about a million."

CBS says that officials with the Snohomish Public Utility District near Seattle received the tapes from the Justice Department.

In another segment, according to the Web site, a trader says, "They're f———g taking all the money back from you guys? All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?"

In other Enron news, prosecutors do not intend to call former Enron finance chief Andrew Fastow as a witness in the first Enron criminal trial, even though they say he played a role in a shady deal at the case's center, according to a list of government witnesses obtained by The Associated Press.

Fastow pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in January, admitting to engineering schemes to make Enron appear healthier than it was while enriching himself on the side. With the plea, Fastow became the government's most high-profile cooperating witness, agreeing to help prosecutors pursue other cases and testify in court when needed.

A jury will decide whether four former Merrill Lynch executives and two former Enron executives conspired to help manipulate the energy company's books in December 1999.

Several attorneys for the six defendants slated to go on trial next week on charges of conspiracy declined comment Tuesday about Fastow's absence from the government's list of nearly 20 witnesses, which can be pared down.

Prosecutors, who faced a Tuesday deadline to give the defendants the witness list, have declined to comment on the case.

But Christopher Bebel, a former federal prosecutor now practicing law in Houston, said prosecutors may want to save Fastow for higher-profile cases, such as the pending conspiracy, fraud and insider trading trial against former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and Richard Causey, Enron's former top accountant.

Contributing: Associated Press.

© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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