Press Release

For Immediate Release
September 17, 2003

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

Assistant Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Press Conference
the Deputy Attorney General
Department of Justice Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

Thank you [Chris]. Good morning everyone. We are here today as a result of the efforts of our Enron task force and the partnership between that task force, DOJ prosecutors, and investigators from the IRS and SEC.

As these latest indictments allege, three former employees of Merrill Lynch engaged in deliberate fraud with Enron executives to conceal that company's poor performance, and to enhance their personal prestige and wealth. One engaged in Obstruction of the Enron Grand Jury Investigation by giving false and misleading testimony to impede the investigation.

On behalf of Director Mueller, I would like to thank members of the Enron task force for their outstanding work. Special Agents and professional support employees, located in Houston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., worked shoulder-to-shoulder with our federal partners to review almost four million pages of records, tens of thousands of e-mails, and files from hundreds of computers. They conducted hundreds of interviews. While they did not always get full cooperation, they persevered to uncover a vast web of improper financial transactions.

The Enron Task Force was formed on January 14, 2002 as a collaborative effort to investigate criminal allegations arising from Enron's collapse. Beginning with the indictment, trial, and conviction of Arthur Andersen in the spring of 2002, the Task Force has charged 24 individuals. The Task Force has also restrained or seized more than $67 million and assisted the Securities and Exchange Commission in a civil settlement of $80 million. That brings the total recovery to more than $147 million. And the investigation is continuing.

Despite its scope, the Enron investigation is only part of the FBI's comprehensive investigative plan to fight corporate fraud. As part of our overall strategy, we have assigned agent and support personnel with accounting, CPA, and securities fraud backgrounds to corporate fraud investigations where needed.

We created and advertised a toll-free Corporate Fraud Telephone Hotline to receive calls from the public about Corporate Fraud. Since February of this year, over 1300 calls have been received. As a direct result, numerous cases have been initiated from private citizens who contacted the hotline. The telephone number for the Corporate Fraud Hotline is 888-622-0117.

And of course, our partnerships with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, and others extend well beyond the Enron investigation. We continue to pool investigative resources and share expertise on a wide variety of corporate fraud matters.

And I am pleased to report that these measures are paying off. Including the Enron investigation, to date, 162 individuals have been charged with violations related to the Justice Department's definition of Corporate Fraud. There have been 72 convictions, and numerous cases are pending trial.

At the present time, there are 126 active Corporate Fraud investigations being conducted by the FBI. At least 15 of these cases involve losses to public investors which exceed $1 billion.

As the President and Attorney General have stated, the recent pattern of corporate fraud represents a significant threat to America's well-being. The FBI will continue to tackle the threat
head on.

Thank you.