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Noose tightens around former Enron CFO

New York, Nov. 1: Andrew S. Fastow, the former chief financial officer of Enron, was indicted by a grand jury in Houston on Thursday on 78 counts of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruct of justice.

The indictment—which closely mirrors the charges in a criminal complaint against Fastow filed in early October—is the first to be brought against an Enron executive since that company collapsed last year amid an accounting scandal.

According to the indictment, Fastow conspired with others inside and outside of Enron to use a series of off-the-books partnerships to disguise the company’s true financial performance, manipulate its stock and divert corporate cash into his pocket.

In addition, in a new accusation raised in the indictment, Fastow was charged with obstruction of justice for trying to persuade an Enron colleague to hide and destroy records related to the transactions in order to keep them from government investigators.

John W. Keker, a lawyer for Fastow, criticised the charges on Thursday as failing to tell the full story of what happened at Enron - a story that, he contends, will lead to his client's exoneration.

“These charges are full of sound and fury, but the truth about Enron has yet to be told,” Keker said in the statement. “When the truth is told to a jury of 12 honest Americans, Andy Fastow will be set free.”

Keker has stated in the past that he would not disclose Fastow’s side of the story until the case against his client goes to trial.

Fastow, 40, is free on a $ 5 million bond. Thursday’s indictment did not require him to appear in court immediately, but he is expected to be arraigned on the charges in a few days before a federal magistrate judge in Houston.

While most of the charges have been raised by the government in the past, the sheer volume of the accusations against Fastow is unusual, reflecting the belief of prosecutors that the former chief financial officer played a central role in the collapse of Enron.

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