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Noose tightens on ex-Enron CFO

New York, Aug. 24: A Houston magistrate has signed orders freezing a number of brokerage and bank accounts controlled by Andrew S. Fastow, the former chief financial officer of Enron, and members of his family, people involved in the case said on Friday.

The orders were signed by US Magistrate Calvin Botley late Thursday after some family members tried to move millions from one account to another, these people said. Peter Fastow, the brother of Andrew Fastow, was said to be among the family members involved. In a filing Wednesday, federal prosecutors sought to seize $ 500,000 in an account of Peter Fastow.

Gordon Andrew, a spokesman for both Andrew and Peter Fastow, declined to comment Friday. The signing of the orders was reported on Friday in The Houston Chronicle.

The orders to freeze the accounts restrict the Fastows and others from moving or withdrawing money, but they do not grant the government its request that those assets be forfeited. Rather, the orders ensure that the money remains in place while a federal judge considers the forfeiture request.

The government sought to seize about $ 23 million in accounts controlled by members of the family and associates of Andrew Fastow’s. The move came as Michael Kopper, a former associate of Fastow’s, pleaded guilty to two felonies and agreed to cooperate with the continuing criminal investigation. Kopper surrendered $ 12 million that he obtained illegally through schemes involving a group of off-the-books partnerships that did business with Enron.

In entering his guilty plea, Kopper implicated Andrew Fastow in criminal wrongdoing, saying that his former colleague had taken kickbacks out of partnership management fees and had joined in a scheme to cheat Enron out of millions of dollars through use of another partnership. Prosecutors said that they were trying to seize all assets that can be traced to criminal activity at Enron.

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