September 20, 2004
First actual Enron trial begins today

Jury selection has begun for the first actual Enron-related trial, known as the "Nigerian Barge" case.

The six people defending themselves in the case over the sale of Nigerian barges will not include high-profile names like ex-Enron Chairman Ken Lay or ex-CEO Jeff Skilling.

The first Enron employees to face a jury are former midlevel workers Dan Boyle and Sheila Kahanek. They will be tried on conspiracy and fraud charges, along with four former bankers from Merrill Lynch James A. Brown, Daniel Bayly, William Fuhs and Robert Furst. All six say they are innocent.

A jury is likely to be chosen today before U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein.

A lot is on the line for the defendants, but prosecutors could forfeit a lot of credibility if they lose this case. It is seen as one of the most understandable in the world of Enron's Byzantine financial machinations.

"This is the first acid test for the government," said Robert Mintz , a New Jersey-based attorney and former federal prosecutor who has followed the case. "Prosecutors will trot out their stable of cooperating witnesses, and the lawyers for all the defendants awaiting trial will be watching closely to see how well they do and how well the defense attorneys can question them."

I haven't been following this particular case closely, but Tom has, and he's got an excellent summary of the particulars. I don't have any opinions about this case, but I certainly agree that the disposition of any number of subsequent defendants hangs at least partly on what happens here. The trial is expected to take about eight weeks.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 20, 2004 to Enronarama | TrackBack