Enron exec did not give nod to destroy documents

By Kristen Hays The Associated Press
Thursday May 30, 2002

HOUSTON — Two Arthur Andersen accountants testified Wednesday that they didn’t consider an instruction to comply with the firm’s document policy as an order to shred Enron-related paperwork. 

John Boudreaux and Jennifer Stevenson, both accountants on Andersen’s Enron audit team, said they heard two partners urge compliance with the policy while informing workers Oct. 23 about an informal Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into some of Enron’s transactions. 

Their immediate boss, Thomas Bauer, mentioned both issues in a morning meeting that day, they said. Then David Duncan, Andersen’s former top Enron auditor, announced the inquiry and instructed his team to comply with the policy at a bigger meeting that afternoon. 

Both testified that they didn’t link the two issues as code to destroy documents to keep them out of the hands of the SEC. 

Stevenson said she threw away old handwritten notes, drafts and other extraneous documents “not in terms of what (the SEC) would see — just in terms of completing audit documentation.” 

Boudreaux said he spent 90 minutes that day going through files for similar extraneous documents, throwing out old drafts and deleting personal e-mails, like messages pertaining to a fantasy football league. 

“I don’t recall any sense of urgency,” Boudreaux said. 

Andersen is charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying documents as the SEC began a probe of Enron’s finances before the energy company collapsed amid questions about its bookkeeping and corporate structure. 

Andersen says it was cleaning its files under firm policy, which calls for retention of final audit conclusions and destruction of extraneous papers and e-mails. All Andersen witnesses who have testified said they did not think they were doing anything wrong. 

Later Wednesday, former Andersen auditor Shane Philpot testified he directed his team to keep all documents related to audits for Portland General Electric, an Enron subsidiary, after receiving a reminder of the firm’s document retention policy. 

“It seemed to be the conservative thing to do,” Philpot said