Enron investors seek ally in court case

The Oregonian
Friday, August 10, 2007

Investors who lost billions in the collapse of Enron -- including employees of Portland General Electric who watched their retirement savings vanish -- want the deep-pocketed banks that participated in the energy giant's financial machinations held accountable.
And they want Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., to lobby the Bush administration to side with former employees and investors in an upcoming court case that could help decide the issue.
The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that turns on the same issue as the Enron case: whether investors should be allowed to recover financial damages from a third party, such as a bank or law firm, that participated in a companies' securities fraud.
The legal concept is known as "scheme liability," and 33 state attorney generals have weighed in on behalf of investors, filing friend of the court briefs in a case connected with Stoneridge Capital Partners.
Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers plans a 10 a.m. news conference today with a handful of PGE employees in the same building that houses PGE's headquarters.
Organizers, including the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York, say they've been holding similar events in states with Republican senators who may hold sway with the president. They aim to twist Smith's arm to join a number of his Republican colleagues in urging the administration not to file a friend of the court brief on behalf of Stoneridge defendants.
PGE, Oregon's largest utility, was purchased by Enron in 1997 and was a subsidiary of the Texas company until last year, when it became an independent public company again. Many PGE employees had the bulk of their retirement savings invested in Enron stock, which became worthless when the energy giant collapsed in 2001.
PGE, which employs 2,700 today, said it had no involvement in today's event.
Reached Thursday, Smith's office said he would be contacting the Department of Justice, which would file any brief, on behalf of the Enron victims.
"Many Oregonians lost their hard-earned retirement savings due to Enron," Smith said in a statement. "Everything should be done to ensure that savings are restored. When this process is all said and done, I want to see the families on top."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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