Enron's Lay Proclaims Innocence

By Agence France-Presse Former Enron chairman Ken Lay maintained his innocence and demanded a speedy trial July 8 after being charged in the accounting fraud that led to the collapse of the energy trading company he founded. "As CEO, I accept responsibility for Enron's collapse," he told reporters in a press conference following his arraignment at a Houston district court. "However, that does not mean that I knew everything that happened at Enron. I firmly reject any notion that I engaged in any wrongful or criminal activity." Lay termed the Enron collapse "an enormous tragedy" but maintained that the failure of the energy giant "does not equate to a crime." The 62-year-old Lay established Houston-based Enron Corp. in 1985 and held the post of chief executive officer for the best part of 15 years. But he has steadfastly maintained his innocence in the fraud that brought it down, laying the blame at the door of his lieutenants, chiefly former CFO Andrew Fastow. On Thursday, he reiterated those allegations and called for a prompt trial so he could clear his name. "I hope it will begin by early September this year," he said. "We are anxious to prove my innocence." Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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