Lay’s accountant testifies at trial

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“I never think in terms of sneaky,” she said under cross examination. Gibson testified in a grand jury investigation of Lay before his 2004 indictment on one charge of bank fraud and three charges of making false statements on loan documents. The case was part of the larger conspiracy indictment against Lay and Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling, but U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, ruling in October 2004 on a request by Lay to have his entire case heard separately, said only the four banking counts would be tried separately. The trial is being heard without a jury by Lake, who also has presided over the four-month-long fraud and conspiracy trial of Lay and Skilling. Jury deliberations in that case were continuing for a third day as evidence was being presented in the bank fraud case. Defense lawyers said Lay, who took the stand in the main case, again would be testifying in his own defense in this case, likely by the end of the day. The government rested its case following testimony from FBI agent Robert Cunnane, who specializes in white-collar fraud. HOUSTON – A personal accountant to Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay testified Monday she was unaware when she transferred money from loans Lay had obtained that federal regulations barred use of some of the money for stock purchases. Sherrie Gibson, contradicting her own grand jury testimony, said sometimes she decided herself which of Lay’s multiple lines of credit to use. “It’s not accurate to say he told me every time,” she said, testifying in the second day of Lay’s bank fraud trial. After saying that prosecutors made her feel pressured to testify that Lay always picked the lines of credit for stock purchases, Gibson added that she did not intend her actions to be deceptive. Cunnane said he reviewed thousands of related documents and testified in minute detail on the trail of Lay’s stock purchases, from the loans to wire transfer orders to the brokers. The documents included Lay’s signature on notes promising not to use the money to buy margin stock, defined as stock traded on national exchanges. “The statements that the funds would not be used to buy margin stock were not true because funds were used to buy margin stock,” Cunnane said. Under cross-examination, he said he found no documents where any agency or bank raised concerns regarding any of the transactions. Lake then refused a standard defense request for acquittal or dismissal of the charges. In brief comments to Lake before calling witnesses, Lay attorney George Secrest acknowledged Lay didn’t take time to closely monitor his personal affairs and relied on the assistance of others. “We’re not trying to put on them and say they screwed up,” Secrest said. But he said Lay never was “put on notice” that there were any problems. Prosecutors allege that beginning in 1999, Lay obtained $75 million in loans from three banks – Bank of America, Chase Bank of Texas and Compass Bank – and then reneged on an agreement with the lenders that he wouldn’t use the money to carry or buy stock or mutual funds. Gibson said she was unaware of the rules and neither Lay nor his banker told her about them. She also said Lay never told her to circumvent any regulations. “First I would look at the interest rate and if those were all equal, I’d also look at availability,” she said of her decision-making on which of Lay’s lines of credit to tap. “I would look to see how much was left, to see how much to draw down on each line. “If everything was equal and I was trying to leave a cushion, I’d also see who was the last bank we would do business with… If we hadn’t used one bank for a while, then I’d use that bank.” Lay signed documents agreeing to loan rules but violated them repeatedly, the government says. Conviction on each of the four charges carries up to a 30-year prison term. Lake has said he won’t announce his verdict in the case until the jury has announces its verdict in the larger case. Gibson testified to the grand jury that she never moved Lay’s money from one account to another without his approval. But on Monday she testified in response to questions from one of Lay’s lawyers that she felt intimidated during the grand-jury appearance by John Hueston, a prosecutor with the federal Enron Task Force, who she said raised his voice with her. “I felt like I was the one on trial and that I had done something wrong,” she said. Pressure from prosecutors on witnesses is a key plank of the Lay-Skilling defense in the main Enron trial.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *