Sightings from The Catbird Seat
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September 8, 2004
Invesco, AIM Settle
By KATE KELLY and IAN MCDONALD
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Sister mutual-fund companies Invesco Funds Group Inc. and AIM Investments reached a tentative $450 million settlement with federal and state regulators of allegations that they allowed favored investors to trade rapidly in their funds at the expense of long-term shareholders.
The firms, both units of Amvescap PLC of London, agreed to pay a combined $375 million in penalties and restitution to settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. They also agreed to reduce mutual-fund fees charged to investors by $75 million over the next five years. In a separate pact with Colorado regulators, Invesco will pay an additional $1.5 million to cover attorneys fees and investor education. Neither firm admitted nor denied the civil fraud charges.
Former Invesco Chief Executive Raymond Cunningham is also close to settling civil-fraud charges filed by the SEC and regulators in New York, people familiar with the situation said.
The Amvescap deal is one of the largest settlements in the fund-trading scandal that has swept through the $7.5 trillion mutual-fund industry over the past year. The pact brings the settlement total to more than $2.8 billion, including $1.9 billion in fines and restitution. Only Bank of America Corp. agreed to pay more in fines and restitution, though Alliance Capital Management Holding LP agreed to a larger settlement if fee cuts are included.
The pact also marks the first time regulators have linked AIM Investments to allegations of improper trading. The Houston firm wasn't charged late last year, when regulators sued Denver-based Invesco and its former chief executive. But regulators have since discovered that AIM had at least 10 arrangements with select investors that allowed them to trade rapidly, or market time, AIM funds, according to a person familiar with the situation. This same person adds that it appears that AIM struck timing arrangements on its own, rather than being infected by Invesco's efforts to woo timers. Invesco and AIM, which merged to form Amvescap in 1997, merged their operations last year.
"The magnitude of the abuse here was staggering," Mr. Spitzer said in an interview. "The euphemism of 'special situations' that was used by the companies to mask what are agreements to violate fiduciary duty once again demonstrates how commonplace and routine these violations had become."
Mr. Spitzer's office alleges that a group of top Invesco executives, including Mr. Cunningham, approved and maintained agreements they called "special situations" to boost the firm's assets under management by allowing select investors to market time their funds. In the two years ended in June 2003, Invesco allowed New Jersey hedge fund Canary Capital Partners LLC to make exchanges in and out of its Dynamics fund totaling $10.4 billion, Mr. Spitzer said in his complaint. The exchanges were more than double the fund's size.
Market-timing isn't illegal, but Invesco and other funds said in their prospectuses that they limited investors' transactions. Market timing is designed to take advantage of discrepancies between a fund's share price and the value of its underlying securities. The practice can raise expenses and sap the profits of long-term fund investors.
"We deeply regret the harm done to fund investors and have taken strong measures to prevent any recurrence," said Charles W. Brady, executive chairman of Amvescap in a statement....
Regulators stressed that the deal wasn't yet final. Among other things, the SEC's five commissioners must sign off on its terms.
When Invesco was sued in December, the parent issued a statement defending both the company and Mr. Cunningham. Neither the company nor Mr. Cunningham "engaged in wrongful conduct," Amvescap said, adding that "these charges will be vigorously contested." After a few weeks the firm changed its stance, seeking to settle regulators' charges....
Also last week, three former Invesco executives agreed to fines and one-year bans from the mutual-fund industry to settle market-timing charges. Former chief investment officer and portfolio manager Timothy J. Miller and ex-colleagues Thomas A. Kolbe and Michael D. Legoski agreed to pay a total of $340,000 in fines.
The three neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.
URL for this article: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB109458046897411306,00.html
December 2, 2003
Invesco Hit With Fraud Charges
New York (AP) - Regulators charged Invesco Funds Group Inc. and its chief executive with civil fraud on Tuesday in the rapidly expanding mutual fund trading scandal.
In separate filings, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Raymond Cunningham and his Denver-based company of defrauding shareholders by allowing certain big clients to engage in market timing — frequent, short-term trading that skimmed profits from long-term shareholders.
According to the complaints, Cunningham and other executives set up a system to attract big-money market timers in 2001. The system flourished, despite complaints from portfolio managers and other employees that shareholders were being harmed.
Authorities estimated that market timing of Invesco funds totaled approximately $900 million in assets at the company in 2003.
"IFG and its CEO willingly sacrificed the interests of mutual fund shareholders when market timers dangled the prospect of higher management fees in front of them," said Stephen M. Cutler, director of the SEC's enforcement division. "By granting special trading privileges to selected customers, they readily violated the fiduciary duty they owed to all shareholders and rendered meaningless the funds' prospectus disclosures on market timing."
Invesco Funds denied any wrongdoing Tuesday and said it would "vigorously" contest any charges against the company or its employees.
Regulators are seeking the return of profits made from the market timing as well as civil penalties.
The investigation of the mutual fund industry has already resulted in complaints against other well-known fund companies, including Putnam Investments and the Pilgrim Baxter fund family. Others, including Strong Financial Corp. and Alliance Capital Management, have acknowledged that market timing occurred but have not been charged.
Market timing is not illegal, but is strictly limited by most fund companies because it can skim profits from longer-term shareholders and increase transaction fees. Authorities contend that funds that prohibited or restricted such trades but then made selective exceptions for big clients, such as hedge funds, committed fraud.
The prospectuses for Invesco funds officially limited trades to four a year, but authorities allege exceptions were made for big clients, including Canary Capital LLC, the hedge fund operator who agreed to pay $40 million earlier this year to settle a complaint brought by Spitzer's office alleging improper fund trading.
"Invesco and its officers committed fraud and violated their fiduciary duties both by allowing Invesco funds to be timed and by concealing their timing arrangements from the investment public," the New York state complaint alleged. "The damages from this fraud are the fees that Invesco collected from the unwitting long-term investors in the funds Invesco turned over to timers — approximately $160.8 million, plus the dilution and other costs that the timing activity visited on these customers."
The filings allege that between June 2001 and June 2003, Canary made roughly $50 million — or a 110 percent return — market timing the Invesco Dynamics fund, while long-term shareholders lost 34 percent.
The Invesco Dynamics fund was marketed to children and families, according to the complaint.
Invesco is owned by London-based Amvescap PLC, which also operates the AIM and Atlantic Trust brands. Amvescap had $345.2 billion in funds under management as of Sept. 30.
November 8, 2003
State pension board fires Putnam Investments
By Deborah Adamson, Honolulu Advertiser
The state Employees' Retirement System voted yesterday to fire Putnam Investments and pull back the $440 million managed by the firm after it was charged with securities fraud.
Hawai'i joined a growing number of states whose public employee pension plans have fired Boston-based Putnam, the fifth-largest mutual fund firm in the country. In the past two weeks, states have taken away $6 billion from Putnam as confidence eroded in the scandal-tainted company.
The ERS board said its action against Putnam, which managed 5.5 percent of ERS assets, was based on a lack of trust, not performance.
"We have to hold ourselves as board members to the highest standards and we have to hold the people who work for us to the highest standards," said Rick Humphreys, vice chairman of the state pension fund board of trustees.
The decision to fire Putnam will not result in any losses to 93,000 public employees and pensioners covered by the plan. The pension plan's costs will be limited to some trading expenses as it switches from one money management firm to another.
The money managed by Putnam will be put in an index fund that tracks the S&P 500 until the board chooses another manager, which could come as soon as Nov. 21.
Regulators have charged that two of Putnam's money managers engaged in market timing. In market timing, fund shares are rapidly traded. Such activity boosts trading costs and volatility in the fund to the detriment of long-term investors. While not illegal, market timing is prohibited by Putnam's policy.
Putnam fired the two managers. One of them, Justin Scott, had oversight over large-cap growth stock investments in which the state pension plan had money, said ERS consultant Callan Associates.
When the market timing activities were discovered, Putnam told the managers to "cut it out" but didn't go much further, Ron Peyton, president of San Francisco-based Callan, told the state pension board. The response later "created controversy and outcry over corporate governance issues in Putnam."
"The action and inaction of management has been a troubling point," added Kimo Blaisdell, the state ERS chief investment officer.
Putnam's firing is a warning to other managers, Humphreys said.
"We will do that to any manager that we find are unethical in their dealings," he said.
The ERS board also voted to send inquiry letters to two other investment firms, Invesco and Jennison, an indirect subsidiary of Prudential, which are under investigation for conducting trading activities that favored some investors to the detriment of others.
Invesco handles $260 million in real-estate assets for the state pension plan while Jennison manages $207 million in small-cap stocks. The board is seeking more information about any investigations.
The state pension plan also reported yesterday that its investments grew by 2.89 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared to the quarter before that. The median growth in the quarter for large public funds tracked by Callan Associates was 3.05 percent. Over the past 12 months, ERS has returned 16.95 percent vs. 17.65 percent for large public funds.
The board also took action on underperforming managers. It left Bank of Hawai'i, Schroder Capital and Capital International on its watch list and took off Pacific Income Advisors because of improved performance. The pension added Bank of Ireland and Bradford & Marzec to the watch list; it also decided to send warning letters to T. Rowe Price and Independence Investment Associates for underperformance.
< < < FLASHBACK < < <
October 20, 2000
Mr. Arthur Levitt, Jr., Chairman
Securities & Exchange Commission
450 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20549-0202
RE: Fraud/Conflicts of Interest - PricewaterhouseCoopers and Kamehameha Schools
Dear Mr. Levitt:
Relating to your reported probe of the operations of PricewaterhouseCoopers, I am bringing to your attention several serious conflict of interest situations that exist between PricewaterhouseCoopers and Hawaii's Kamehameha Schools....
In 1999 I filed a RICO lawsuit Civil No. 99-00304 DAE: Harmon v. Federal Insurance Company, P&C Insurance Co., Inc., Marsh & McLennan, Inc., Trustees of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, et al.
The following are excerpts from that lawsuit:
Defendant PricewaterhouseCoopers is one of the nation's largest accounting firms, and conducts business in Hawaii and throughout the United States.
Despite written opinions from Price Waterhouse that P&C should operate at "arms-length" from KSBE, all or some of the Trustees of KSBE, and all or some of the directors and officers of P&C, conspired to disregard these opinions and to conceal violations of I.R.S. "interim sanctions" regulations.
Plaintiff Harmon personally reported his concerns regarding the apparent "sweetheart deals" with Marsh & McLennan at the direction of Peters, Aipa and Kam, to representatives of Coopers & Lybrand in October, 1996, and followed this up in writing on November 20, 1996 . At this meeting and in his letter, Plaintiff explained that he would not sign P&C's annual financial statements due to the apparent conspiracy between certain trustees, managers, directors and officers at KSBE, P&C and M&M, to defraud KSBE, P&C, and the I.R.S.
Plaintiff also sent a copy of this letter to the Insurance Commissioner, State of Hawaii, along with all enclosures which provided documentary evidence of these wrongful activities. Neither entity responded to this report. Plaintiff later learned that Nathan Aipa had approved P&C's annual financial statements, and that Coopers & Lybrand had not disclosed in their review the information that M&M was charging excessive fees, and that certain claims were intentionally inadequately reserved.
Plaintiff alleges that Pricewaterhouse had knowledge of these improper activities and financial statements, had a professional duty to report improper and illegal conduct regarding the preparation of these financial statements, and knowingly and wrongfully colluded with some or all of trustees of KSBE, with officers and directors of P&C, in a conspiracy to defraud the beneficiaries of the Estate of Bernice Pauahi Bishop and P&C; racketeering; mail fraud; wire fraud; and violations of the "interim sanctions" regulations of the I.R.S., as detailed in Plaintiff's complaint....
The following is from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 02/12/00, by Rick Daysog:
Dispute has cost estate millions... The state probes and IRS audit pushed related bills from law and accounting firms to $5 million.... The three-year Kamehameha Schools controversy continues to take a heavy financial toll on the nonprofit charitable trust....
A Star-Bulletin review of the $6 billion estate's voluminous expenditures for its 1999 fiscal year found that the trust paid about $5 million to law firms and accounting firms that were involved in defending it from the Internal Revenue Services' massive audit and the state attorney general's criminal and civil investigations....
The financial records, which were filed in state probate court on Dec. 30, ALSO INDICATE FORMER TRUSTEES CONTINUED TO REWARD THEIR FRIENDS WITH LUCRATIVE OUTSIDE CONTRACTS....
In many ways, the records offer a snapshot of a boardroom under siege...
That point is underscored by the enormous amount of legal and tax work awarded to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. The firm billed the Kamehameha Schools $1.2 million last year, largely for legal and tax work involving the IRS audit. The firm, recently merged with Coopers & Lybrand, which also conducts work for the trust....
Much of the Pricewaterhouse work came after January 1999, when the IRS issued its scathing preliminary findings of the estate's operations. The IRS later threatened to revoke the trust's tax-exempt status, setting off a chain of events that resulted in the resignation of former board members Henry Peters, Oswald Stender, Richard "Dickie" Wong, Lokelani Lindsey and Gerard Jervis....
From The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 08/24/99, by Rick Daysog: Peters Blames Tax Guru for IRS Problems:...
For more than a decade, the Bishop Estate and its trustees relied on tax guru Mark McConaghy to keep the Internal Revenue Service off their backs....
But these days, the estate's former board members blame the Washington, D.C., tax lawyer for much of their recent troubles with the IRS....
In court papers filed yesterday, ousted trustee Henry Peters asked Probate Judge Kevin Chang to vacate his historic May 7 order temporarily removing the estate's board, saying McConaghy, co-managing partner of PriceWaterhouseCoopers' Washington National Tax Service, and other key tax experts have undeclared conflicts of interest that have tainted the judge's removal order.
Former trustee Gerard Jervis, who resigned permanently on Friday, also is considering legal action against McConaghy and several outside consultants, saying he relied on the experts' advice for decisions that the IRS is now questioning.... Other former trustees are exploring similar options....
"PriceWaterhouse and Mr. McConaghy have conflicts of interests with that of KSBE," said Peters, who also is asking Judge Chang to disqualify the estate's interim board of trustees. . . . These conflicts of interest now extend to the interim trustees because they have retained and rely upon the advice and services of PriceWaterhouse."...
Peters' complaint -- which also alleges conflicts of interests on the part of the estate's acting chief operating officer Nathan Aipa and the trust's mainland law firm of Miller & Chevalier -- comes as the Bishop Estate's interim trustees filed a lawsuit today seeking Peters' permanent removal from the estate's board....
The removal suit -- which also will call for the permanent ouster of Richard "Dickie" Wong -- is in response to the IRS's threat in April to revoke the estate's valuable tax-exempt status if the former board members were not replaced....
Fellow trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis have already resigned. Circuit Judge Bambi Weil permanently removed Lokelani Lindsey on May 6 after a five-month trial.
In his 17-page petition, Peters said that McConoghy could be a target of legal malpractice claims since he played an integral part in past Bishop Estate transactions that are now being questioned by the IRS in its four-year audit of the $6 billion dollar charitable trust. McConaghy's continued role in negotiating with the IRS places his allegiance to the estate in conflict with his personal interest in fending off a potential malpractice claim, Peters said....
"I believe that the current reliance on the recommendations of the firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers is highly improper due to the fact that this firm initially was instrumental in recommending the creation of the various entity structures that have caused the IRS to issue substantial proposed deficiencies and penalties for negligence," said Robert Schrichman, Peters' California-based tax expert.
In many ways, McConaghy -- who was a finalist for the trustee post in 1994 when the state Supreme Court selected Jervis -- is one of a handful of outsider advisers including local attorney Michael Hare and Stanley Mukai who have held considerable influence over the affairs of the 115-year-old Bishop Estate.
He's also one of the trust's best paid consultants. Since 1989, McConaghy and the PriceWaterhouse firm has billed the estate more than $3.4 million for tax and legal services. Since January, Price Waterhouse, which merged with the Coopers & Lybrand accounting firm last year, has wracked up more than $700,000, estate sources said....
McConaghy and his staff at PriceWaterhouse also played a big role in the estate's successful investment in Goldman Sachs Group L.P. Back in 1992, when the Bishop Estate invested its initial $250 million in Goldman Sachs, the PriceWaterhouse firm assembled due-diligence team screened the investment for tax and securities law implications. The value of the estate's Goldman Sachs investment, which included a second $250 million infusion in 1994, has risen to about $3 billion....
At PriceWaterhouse, McConaghy and longtime partner Bob Shapiro head a team of more than 650 employees, which include lobbyists, economists, and former IRS officials who represent scores of Fortune 500 companies....
McConaghy -- an associate of former Sen. Robert Dole -- recently served on the National Commission on Restructuring the IRS, which recommended major reforms on the U.S. tax agency in 1997. He also served as a trustee of presidential candidate Elizabeth Hanford Dole's blind trust.... [Bishop Estate was also involved with Elizabeth Hanford Dole through the buyout of her company, Hanford's Creations, Inc.]
Before joining PriceWaterhouse in 1983, McConaghy worked for the IRS and later became chief of staff of the Joint Tax Committee, the powerful congressional panel which writes most of the tax laws....
To be sure, McConaghy is no stranger to controversy at the estate. Sources said that he played a significant role in the estate's much-maligned efforts to lobby against federal legislation barring excessive compensation for directors of nonprofit trusts.
He has also invested personal money in several Bishop Estate deals. Court records show that McConaghy invested about $25,000 in McKenzie Methane Inc., the troubled Houston-based natural gas producer that was taken over by the Bishop Estate....
McConaghy also had a personal stake in a Michigan venture in which the estate acquired about 292,000 acres of raw timberland for about $25 million in 1991....
The timber venture, now known as Shelter Bay Forest, initially was a partnership with New Hampshire timber executive Ben Benson, who is a friend of McConaghy's....
From Harper's Magazine, Feb, 2000: How George W. Bush Got Rich -- A heartwarming tale of influence, cronyism, and $1.7 billion, by Joe Conason:
... On December 6, 1994, one month after he defeated Ann Richards to become governor of Texas, George W. received a large but belated campaign contribution from an acquaintance named Thomas O. Hicks...
While the University of Texas invested hundreds of millions of dollars with Republican-linked partnerships under the guidance of Tom Hicks, it also placed hundreds of millions of dollars more with his friends and associates as well as with firms that did business with Hicks, Muse...
Two former classmates of Hicks' at the University of Texas also were awarded large investments by UTIMCO. One was his old fraternity brother Bruce Schnitzer, a New York insurance man who set up Wand Partners, which received more than $60 million in at least three separate deals with UTIMCO between 1996 and 1998. Schnitzer's record of success was mixed at best; his companies' rates of return lagged behind the Dow average....
Nor was it reassuring that he had resigned in 1985 as the president of Marsh & McLennan, then the world's biggest insurance brokerage . . . after the company lost $165 million in unauthorized trading and was fined by the New York State insurance department....
Despite those problems, Schnitzer maintained close connections not only with Hicks, Muse but with Richard Rainwater and the Bass family. After quitting Marsh & McLennan he had done multimillion-dollar deals with all of them....
Texas University Investment Mgt Co is one of the largest institutional investors in Bedford Property Management.
Other large investors in Bedford are Barclays Bank and Invesco Management & Research.
Among the largest institutional investors in Marsh & McLennan are Barclays Bank and Invesco.
Bedford is one of the nation's largest real estate development and property management companies, doing millions of dollars a year in business with Bishop Estate....
These are only a few examples of fraud and conflicts of interests involving these entities. Kamehameha Schools continues to contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Marsh & McClennan, and Federal Insurance Company even though the five previous trustees have resigned and have been replaced with interim trustees. A majority of top management personnel remain employed by Kamehameha Schools, and continue to control their legal and financial transactions and reports.
If you wish to read more, I recommend the following web-site:
I appreciate and applaud your efforts to halt the abuses of all these powerful auditor-consultants who have betrayed the trust of stockholders and the public for too long.
I wish you success in your investigations.
Very truly yours,
< s > Bobby N. Harmon
cc: Dr. Hamilton McCubbin, CEO, Kamehameha Schools
Mr. Robert K.U. Kihune, Trustee, Kamehameha Schools
Mr. Ronald D. Libkuman, Trustee, Kamehameha Schools
Ms. Constance H. Lau, Trustee, Kamehameha Schools
Mr. David P. Coon, Trustee, Kamehameha Schools
Mr. Francis A. Keala, Trustee, Kamehameha Schools
Ms. Janet Hughes, Internal Revenue Service
Ms. Dorothy Sellers, Esq., Office of the Attorney General
Mr. Billy Beaver, U.S. Dept of Labor
Mr. Tai K. Lee, Special Agent, U.S. Department of the Treasury
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Janet Reno, United States Attorney General
Trustee Screening Committee
Dr. Randy Roth, President, Hawaii Bar Association
Read the complete letter at:
February 10, 2003
The Below Companies are Controlled by Leonard Millman’s Fronts-Cutout Companies part of this ongoing Continuous Criminal Enterprise (RICO) Run by the following Goons....
These are assets stolen through Financial frauds, HUD Fraud, Real Estate Loan Fraud, Government Contract Fraud, Oil and Gas Fraud, Securities Fraud, Pension Plan Fraud, Illegal Political Campaign Money Laundering, Denver International Airport Fraud, Narcotics Money Laundering from Narcotics Importation into the USA, Illegal Bio-Chemical Weapon Sales, Other Illegal Weapon Sales from Weapons Stolen from US Arsenals, Murders, Intimidation of Witnesses and Informants of Crimes committed against the United States of America and The American People, and other crimes committed by the following group of criminals known as the...
“Bush Crime Family–Denver Connections to Iran Contra”
Leonard Yale Millman
Each of the below companies are interconnected to Leonard Millman...
INVESCO NORTH AMERICAN HOLDINGS INC
7800 E. UNION AVE #800
DENVER, CO 80237
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For more, GO TO > > > OUST vs Harmon-Witness: Stew Webb
# # #
For more of the story on ...
DIRTY MONEY, DIRTY POLITICS & BISHOP ESTATE
Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV - Part V - Part VI
MORE TO COME
MEANWHILE, FOR MORE FLOCKING BIRDS, GO TO...
ACE UP THE SLEEVE
ALLIED WORLD ASSURANCE
ALEXANDER & BALDWIN
APCOA: VULTURES IN THE PARKING LOT
ALOHA, HARKEN ENERGY
THE CARLYLE GROUP: BIRDS THAT DRINK FROM CESSPOOLS
THE BANKRUPTCY BUZZARDS
THE BLACKSTONE GROUP
BROKEN TRUST: THE BOOK
BUZZARDS ON THE BAR
BUZZARDS OF PARADISE
THE CARLYLE GROUP
THE CHUBB GROUP
CLAIMS BY HARMON
A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING KAMEHAMEHA’S COURT
DIRTY GOLD IN GOLDMAN SACHS
FLYING HIGH IN HAWAII: THE RON REWALD STORY
KAJIMA: BLOOD, BRIBES & BRUTALITY
THE KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS’ RETIREMENT FUND
THE MYTH & THE METHANE
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY
NESTS IN THE PENTAGON
THE PEREGRINE FUND
HOW TO PLUCK A NON-PROFIT
I SING THE HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC
LOST GENERATIONS: A BOY, A SCHOOL, A PRINCESS
THE CONSUELO ZOBEL ALGER FOUNDATION
THE EAGLE HOODED: THE 9-11 COVERUP
THE JOHN M. OLIN FOUNDATION
THE QUEEN LILIUOKALANI TRUST
THE GREAT NEST EGG ROBBERIES
THE HARMON ARBITRATION
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THE NESTS OF CB RICHARD ELLIS
THE POOP ON AON
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THE PUNA CONNECTION
P-S-S-T, WANNA BUY A GOOD AUDIT?
RICO IN PARADISE
THE RISE AND FALL OF SUMMIT COMMUNICATIONS
THE STORY OF ENRON
SUKAMTO SIA: THE INDONESIAN CONNECTION
VULTURES OF THE SANDWICH ISLES
WHAT PRICE WATERHOUSE?
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRUSTEE VS. HARMON
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Last updated June 11, 2007, by The Catbird