Washington (AP) – Former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay could testify at a Senate hearing Tuesday, a week after pulling out of two scheduled appearances when some in Congress suggested he has engaged in criminal activity.
Lay’s spokeswoman said Friday he hadn’t decided what to do about his scheduled testimony, but Sen. Byron Dorgan sounded optimistic that Lay would answer questions.
It is customary for witnesses to inform a congressional panel if they intend to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and “they are not doing so at this point,” sad Dorgan, citing discussions between lawyers for Lay and the Senate Commerce Committee.
“Ken Lay is still weighing his options for how he will handle the hearing on Tuesday,” said spokeswoman Kelly Kimberly.
Lay decided last Sunday not to testify at the scheduled congressional hearings, after a numbers of comments by senators and House members on TV take shows about alleged criminality, including one that Lay had to know Enron was a giant pyramid scheme.
Meanwhile, legal experts said that Thursday’s house testimony by former Enron chief executive officer Jeff Skilling could have legal consequences.
In a three-house appearance before a house subcommittee, Skilling said he knew few details about the web partnerships that brought the company to ruin and the former CEO insisted he was never warned of the problems with the partnerships.
Skilling was contradicted by Enron treasurer Jeff McMahon and was questioned by congressmen who said they didn’t believe Skilling’s story. The former CEO said he was unaware Enron was using the off-the-books partnerships to “conceal liabilities or inflate profitability.”
The partnerships kept hundreds of millions of dollars in debt off the company’s balance sheet.
Asked whether Skilling was willing to come back to Capital Hill for more questioning, a spokeswoman, Judy Leon, said “He’s responding to all the invitations.”