Back here on the domestic front, four Merrill Lynch execs have been charged with civil fraud (which sounds more like an oxymoron than a legal term) in helping that accursed company cook its books.
Charged with civil fraud were Schuyler Tilney, the former head of Merrill's Houston office; Tom Davis, former vice president of private equity and research; Robert Furst, former managing director; and Dan Bayly, chairman of investment banking.
All four are alleged to have taken part in a deal involving the sale of three electricity-generating barges anchored off the coast of Nigeria, while only Tilney and Davis are charged in connection with a complex series of commodity sales that were said to be disguised loans to Enron.
By allowing Merrill to take part in the deals, the four men "aided and abetted" Enron's efforts to make false statements that would be used in the sale of securities and in annual and quarterly SEC filings, helped Enron keep false books and records and circumnavigate internal financial controls, according to the complaint.
"We're sending a strong message to investment bankers and other professionals that they will be held responsible and accountable if they engage in aiding and abetting fraud," said Luis R. Mejia, assistant chief litigation counsel with the SEC.
Other banks are also under investigation for transactions they did with Enron, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup.