A month into the government's fraud and conspiracy trial against former Enron Corp. chairman Kenneth Lay and chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, early witnesses for the prosecution are sticking to their claims that the men were involved in financial wrongdoing.
A corporate secretary for the company, Paula Rieker, testified this week that Lay knew the company could face a cash squeeze, but lied to employees and analysts by describing Enron's liquidity as strong. Rieker, 51, was second in command in investor relations under Mark Koenig, the trial's first witness. She has pleaded guilty to insider trading and is one of several witnesses cooperating with prosecutors.
Lawyers for Lay and Skilling have said that Rieker was not in a position to judge decisions made by division heads to release rosier figures.
The former chief executive of Enron Broadband Services, Ken Rice, 47, also testified for the government, admitting that he lied to employees, investors, analysts and even friends about the financial state of his unit. He pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud in 2004 and told the court that Skilling asked him to change a planned May 2001 Enron board of directors presentation to make the bottom line more positive, and thus misleading.Current Enron accountant Terry West also testified, but was used largely to help enter numerous budget-related documents into evidence.
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