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ECONOMICS REPORT - Enron's Ken Lay Dies at 64 | Bill Aims to Renew Hedge Fund Rule

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I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Ken Lay (File photo)
Ken Lay (File photo)

Kenneth Lay, the former chairman of Enron, died Wednesday in Aspen, Colorado. A medical examiner said the cause was a heart attack. Ken Lay was sixty-four years old.

In May, a jury in Houston, Texas, found him guilty of six charges related to the failure of the energy trading company. He faced sentencing in October to a long prison term.

The jury found former Enron president Jeffrey Skilling guilty of nineteen charges.

False record-keeping and other actions made Enron appear profitable even as its financial troubles grew. Its request for bankruptcy protection in two thousand one marked, at the time, the biggest business failure in American history.

More than twenty people later admitted or were found guilty of charges of wrongdoing. Jurors said Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were responsible for what took place.

A week ago, government lawyers asked a judge to order the two men to pay more than one hundred eighty million dollars. They were seeking forty-three million of that from Ken Lay.

After Enron's failure, Congress moved to strengthen accounting rules with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of two thousand two.

Ken Lay had built Enron into one of the nation's biggest companies. News reports about his death noted that President Bush called him "Kenny-Boy."

Legal experts say his death clears his criminal record because he did not have a chance to appeal. But civil actions to reclaim money can continue, though possibly with limits.

Ken Lay said his company was a victim of bad market conditions and unfair media coverage. After the jury found him guilty, he told reporters: "I firmly believe that I am innocent of the charges against me, as I have said from day one."

Before we go, a quick update. Recently we said hedge fund advisers had to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That was true at the time, at least for advisers with fifteen or more investors.

On June twenty-third an appeals court rejected that rule. But three members of the House of Representatives have since proposed a bill that would give the agency the power to renew it.

Hedge funds are estimated to hold between one and two million million dollars. But they are not governed by investor protections like mutual funds are.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. A free transcript of this report is at www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember.

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