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Ex-Enron lawyers in fraud charge

Two former lawyers at bankrupt energy firm Enron have been charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with civil securities fraud.

Jordan Mintz, ex-general counsel for Enron's global finance group and Rex Rogers, former associate general counsel are the two men charged. The SEC says they helped misrepresent deals in Enron's accounting. Lawyers for the men deny the charges. The case comes more than five years after Enron collapsed. The SEC said the men were involved in a scheme to hide the true value of accounts, including one of Enron's off-the-books partnerships in Brazil.

Former Enron finance executive Andrew Fastow, who is now in prison, has been accused of organizing one of his partnerships to pay $11.3 million for Enron's share in Cuiaba, the name of the Brazilian scheme. But the transaction was deemed a sham because the project was not independent of Enron. The financial competition office also said Rogers played a part in enabling Kenneth Lay - the firm's founder and chairman - to hide millions of sales of shares in the firm between 2000 and 2001. Lay was convicted last year on 10 counts of criminal fraud and conspiracy as well as lying to banks. He died soon after.

The SEC is demanding fines from Rogers and Mintz and also wants to bar them from acting as directors of any public firm. A lawyer for Rogers defended his client saying he was: „A person of great integrity and the highest moral character. „We look forward to vigorously defending against these baseless allegations,” he added. (BBC NEWS)