Enron's over folks--corporate regulation weakened again

Thursday, December 21, 2006 at 02:03 PM

About 10 days ago, the Justice Department announced a few changes that are going to make it just a bit easier for corporate frauds to do their work and get away with it.  Not that this is how the change is being publicly pitched, of course.

From the Ap story, as reported in the NY Times:

The Justice Department put new limits on prosecutors seeking confidential data from corporations Tuesday after critics leaned on the government to back off tough tactics authorized during the Enron-era scandals.

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said the new guidelines won't hinder prosecutors from aggressively going after companies accused of fraud and other white-collar crimes. Whistle-blowers called the changes a setback for shareholders and employees who risk losing billions in pensions and savings if scandal-tainted corporations aren't fully investigated.

A coalition of allies who had demanded the changes offered only lukewarm support. The new rules bar the government from charging businesses solely on the basis of their refusal to hand over corporate attorney-client communications or their continuing to pay lawyer's fees for employees under investigation.

Announcing the changes in a New York speech that was closed to the media and public, McNulty said they aimed ''to strike a balance between the central concerns of those who have raised questions about the policy ... and continue our aggressive efforts against corporate criminals.'' The text of his speech was released in Washington.
Stephen Kohn, chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, called the new rules "outrageous" and accused the Justice Department of "backing down to corporate pressure."

"It becomes very hard to uncover fraud that is hurting shareholders," Kohn said.

Funny about that "closed to the media and the public.  Why do you suppose they did that?  Probably just to keep from looking like publicity hogs, right?

It took a lot of years for WWII to be "over" in the sense that it is no longer the dominant paradigm for political and social life.  Enron sure had a whole lot shorter shelf life.