Enron money man ‘raided reserves’

Enron boosted its earnings by dipping into reserve accounts, a former chief accountant at a unit of the scandal-hit energy company has testified in court.

Wesley Colwell claimed that he shifted $14m (£8m) from one account onto Enron’s balance sheet so that the firm could beat Wall Street profit targets.

Prosecutors are trying to prove that Enron’s former bosses manipulated accounts to boost its share price.

Mr Colwell alleged that he had twice taken $7m from a fund of $70m that was set aside to pay a contract, allowing Enron to boost its earnings per share figure to 34 cents from 32 cents.

However, Mr Colwell said that he had not been ordered to make the changes by anyone at the company. He said that it was understood to be Mr Skilling’s “preference” that the earnings beat analysts’ estimates.

Mr Colwell, 46, was called to the stand after striking a deal with prosecutors, and after paying $500,000 to settle civil allegations brought by the US market watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission.

“If I tell the truth and don’t withhold any information, I will not be prosecuted for my crimes while at Enron,” Mr Colwell told jurors on Monday.

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