Statement of Deputy Attorney General
LARRY D. THOMPSON
Kopper Plea/Forfeiture/Freeze Press Conference
August 21, 2002
I am here together with members of the Corporate Fraud Task Force Michael Chertoff, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division and Steve Cutler of the Securities and Exchange Commission to formally announce the guilty plea this morning in Houston of former Enron Managing Director Michael KOPPER, which has been widely reported in the media.
This plea marks a significant milestone in the Enron investigation. We have secured the cooperation of an important witness. At the same time, todays plea allows us to collect an additional 12 million dollars which will go toward relief for defrauded investors.
Former Enron executive KOPPER pled guilty to an Information charging him with participation in a conspiracy against the company and its shareholders. Mr. KOPPER has accepted responsibility for his role in these offenses and has agreed to forfeit 12 million dollars to satisfy both this plea and a related SEC complaint, money that will be distributed by the SEC to injured investors. Mr. KOPPER has wisely acknowledged his liability for his conduct and is now cooperating with the governments investigations of this matter.
The criminal information describes a conspiracy beginning in 1997 and lasting through July 2001 by KOPPER and co-conspirators inside and outside of Enron Corporation, including Enrons Chief Financial Officer. The Information alleges that the conspirators created an array of companies designed to disguise Enrons vulnerability to risks and losses and to benefit the conspirators at the expense of shareholders.
The three schemes charged in the information RADR, CHEWCO and SOUTHAMPTON differed in their details, but they all had the common purpose to conceal the nature and extent of Enrons investments by placing them off of its own balance sheet. This made Enron appear more profitable to Wall Street and, in one instance, disguised Enrons regulatory violations.
This investigation is active and ongoing. It has already produced the guilty plea of Arthur Andersen partner David Duncan and trial conviction of the Arthur Andersen partnership for obstruction of justice. We have also already charged three other co-conspirators for their participation in one of the schemes charged in todays information.
I want to commend Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff of the Criminal Division, Fraud Section Chief Joshua Hochberg, the head of the Enron Task Force, Leslie Caldwell, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Hanusik, FBI Deputy Director Bruce Gebhardt and the entire task force for their work on this matter to date. I also want to thank the SEC, another member of the Corporate Fraud Task Force, for its great cooperation and successful efforts in this investigation, leading to the SECs own civil action in this matter which Steve Cutler of the SEC will now tell you about.