By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Jan. 11, 2002 — The chairmen of a US House committee and subcommittee investigating the Enron debacle Friday demanded the names of Arthur Andersen LLP auditors and consultants who worked on the account prior to the company’s December collapse.
The panels renewed their call for documents after Andersen’s Thursday disclosure that a “significant” but undetermined number of Enron files had been destroyed.
A US Senate investigatory panel, meanwhile, issued 51 subpoenas for Enron documents, targeting the Houston company and 49 individuals who worked for the company dating back to January 1999, and auditor Andersen.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman James Greenwood (R-Penn.) asked Andersen to produce the names of individuals who worked on the Enron account since January 1997 by Monday and to specify those who specifically worked on the so-called special purpose entities set up by Enron to keep debt of its balance sheet.
In a letter to Andersen, Tauzin said committee investigators Thursday learned “thousands” of documents were “knowingly destroyed” by Andersen employees working on the Enron engagement, apparently prior to a Dec. 13 request for documents by the committees.
The committees also asked Andersen to produce documentation of the auditor’s records management policies and records of any meetings concerning its policy, plus any communication concerning destruction or retention of Enron documents. As Andersen retrieves electronic documents thought to be destroyed, the committees asked the auditors to produce them.
The request specifically targets records relating to Enron’s Chewco transaction, an off-balance sheet special purpose entity. Tauzin asked Andersen to produce any records supporting a determination that there was a 3% outside equity interest in the partnership.
In testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee last month, C. E. Andrews, managing partner of the Arthur Andersen’s Global Audit Practice, said the auditors made an error in judgment with respect to one off-balance sheet special purpose entity (SPE) transaction. SPE’s must have an outside equity investment equal to 3% of the value of the entity. All debt is then required to be off the parent company’s books.
But Andrews claimed auditors knew nothing about another SPE that caused Enron the greatest financial damage when its existence came to light. Andrews said a special committee of Enron’s board informed Andersen of the SPE’s existence in November and Andersen immediately took the information to the audit committee.