- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Canadian bank agreed to pay $80 million to settle regulatory charges of helping Enron Corp. manipulate its finances and defraud investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced yesterday.

Under the agreement, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, based in Toronto, is neither admitting nor denying wrongdoing, the SEC said. The commission said it intends to order the money paid by the bank to go to victims of Enron’s fraud.

The SEC said that between June 1998 and October 2001, the bank and Enron structured 34 financings as “asset sales” for accounting and financing reporting purposes. That allowed the energy giant to hide from investors and rating agencies the true extent of its borrowings, the SEC said.

Enron used these disguised loans to increase earnings by more than $1 billion, to increase operating cash flows by almost $2 billion and to avoid disclosure of more than $2.6 billion in debt on its financial statements, the SEC said.

Also yesterday, the SEC said that two of three executives at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce agreed to settle charges over their reported role in helping Enron mislead investors.

The SEC said that the settlement involves Daniel Ferguson, identified as executive vice president of the bank’s treasury, and Mark Wolf, identified as a former executive director with the bank. Under the settlement, Mr. Ferguson will pay a total of $563,000 and Mr. Wolf will pay $60,000, the commission said. The money will go to help compensate Enron fraud victims, the SEC said.


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