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Enron bonuses open to probe

Houston, Nov. 22 (AP): The judge overseeing Enron Corpís bankruptcy approved a request from an employee group to hire lawyers to investigate bonuses executives received just before the Chapter 11 case was filed.

US bankruptcy judge Arthur Gonzalez said yesterday the Enron employment-related issues committee, which represents Enron workers in the bankruptcy, could hire two Houston law firms to investigate the bonuses.

The company doled out more than $ 100 million in bonuses to nearly 600 workers in November 2001. Enron filed for bankruptcy on December 2. About $ 50 million was spread among 75 traders and another $ 55 million was given to another 500 workers as an incentive to stay with Enron. About 4,500 workers were laid off December 3 with a promise of $ 4,500 each in severance. They later received an additional $ 1,100 each, but would have received thousands of dollars more under Enronís severance plan.

When workers in August accepted up to $ 13,500 each in a final $ 28.8-million severance plan, they gave up the right to sue for more severance pay. But they reserved the right to try to recover retention bonuses.

Meanwhile, regulators investigating the practices of Wall Street analysts said Morgan Stanley failed to maintain internal e-mail records required by securities laws.

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