How Fastow Helped Enron Fall

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Enron's ex-CFO Fastow kept mum before a hostile House hearing

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Fastow sat at the crossroads of Enron's duplicity, and Richard Buy, Enron's chief risk manager, found himself increasingly at odds with Fastow as the pressure to do deals mounted. "Rick's group and the dealmakers were constantly in conflict," says a former finance executive. In the past couple of years, the risk-evaluation structures that had been put in place were compromised, the former executive asserts. Challenging Fastow's deals got Buy, who reported to Fastow, a ticket to corporate Siberia. Similarly, Fastow had the power to overwhelm potential whistle-blowers like Jordan Mintz, a former Enron attorney who told congressional panelists that he raised warnings about Fastow's potential conflicts of interest.

Fastow became so convinced of his own importance that he told the board of directors the partnerships couldn't exist without his working both sides of the table. He "presented his participation as something he did not desire personally but was necessary to attract investors," states the Powers report.

For a financial man, this is the height of hubris. Money seeks its highest reward. If Fastow's deals were really good enough and transparent enough, investors would have come running. And Enron's stock would still be flying. You don't have to be a financial genius to understand that.

--Reported by Cathy Booth Thomas/Dallas, Jyoti Thottam/Houston, Julie Rawe/New York and Michael Weisskopf/Washington

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