- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

From combined dispatches
Congress has begun investigating the collapse of Enron Corp., a key lawmaker said yesterday, as the nation's biggest energy trader received a $1.5 billion cash infusion to continue operations.
Congressional investigators will meet with Enron Corp. officials in Texas tomorrow, said Rep. Billy Tauzin, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Mr. Tauzin, who plans to hold hearings on Enron's collapse next month, wants to know how the Houston-based company was able to manipulate accounting principles, what effect Enron's failings will have on energy markets and how to make commodities-trading systems more transparent.
He and his staff are expected to be briefed today by Securities and Exchange Commission officials and will later be briefed by Arthur Andersen LLP, Enron's auditor.
Enron's collapse came after the company disclosed financial deals that went sour and revealed billions of dollars in debt that had not been included on its balance sheets. Enron on Sunday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing its assets and those of 13 subsidiaries at $49.8 billion and total debts at $31.2 billion creating the largest U.S. bankruptcy case ever.
Still, shares in the ailing energy firm Enron surged yesterday after JP Morgan Chase and Citibank late Monday provided the company with $1.5 billion cash to continue operations. Enron also secured a bankruptcy judge's approval to spend $250 million to keep operating as it tries to reorganize.
Enron shares more than doubled in value to close yesterday at 86 cents after being beaten down to nearly worthless levels last week. Still, the stock had traded for more than $80 earlier this year.
Enron said last month it overstated its 1998 income by $113 million, part of $586 million that Enron cut from its profits since 1997. The announcement helped fuel a 99 percent nose dive in the energy trader's stock since mid-October and has put a spotlight on years of audits by Andersen, which is the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.
Adding to Enron's woes, another key lawmaker yesterday urged Vice President Richard B. Cheney to disclose details of any meetings between Enron executives and the White House.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, said Enron executives who contributed heavily to President Bush's campaign may have exerted "significant influence" on the energy plan formulated by Mr. Cheney's task force last spring.

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