The famous "Enron whistleblower" is a woman who worked at Enron, the Houston-based energy corporation, as a vice president. Sherron Watkins gained notoriety in early 2002 after a congressional committee leaked memos she'd written to Enron founder Kenneth Lay about their company's impeding implosion. Enron later filed the largest corporate bankruptcy in history at the time.
An Internal Whistleblower
Although Congress and the media consider Watkins the Enron "whistleblower," she never actually took her concerns about Enron management's wrongdoing outside the company. In the summer of 2001, she worked as an accounting vice president, and her boss was the then-chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow (who later pleaded guilty to two felonies).
The chief executive of Enron, Jeffrey Skilling, resigned in August of that year, and Watkins then wrote an anonymous memo to Lay which read in part, "I am incredibly nervous we will implode in a wave of accounting scandals," and described her feeling that the business world would eventually see that Enron's huge financial success was "nothing more than an accounting hoax."
She then identified herself to Lay and met with him, quoting a colleague who had said to her, "I wish we would get caught. We're such a crooked company."
Although Watkins sold off her own Enron stock when she saw the fall coming and admitted to having insider information, she was never charged with wrongdoing.
A Lesser Known Enron Whistleblower
Watkins was not the only corporate whistleblower employed by Enron. Another internal Enron whistleblower who received far less attention from the media is Vince Kaminski, who was the head of the company's risk and research division. He spoke up about the accounting irregularities several times within the company, at the risk of losing his job.
For example, at an October 2001 meeting of Enron's executives, the conversation turned to whether CFO Fastow's past actions were ethical and legal. Kaminski stood at the podium and argued that Fastow's dealings were very troubling, and he testified later that he said "what Andy Fastow did was not only improper but terminally stupid, and what Enron should do at this point is come clean."
Thinking of Becoming a Corporate Whistleblower?
If you're thinking of blowing the whistle, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced whistleblower attorney who will help you pursue your claim and will fight to protect your rights. Contact us today to schedule a private consultation with a lawyer for whistleblowers today.
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