- HOUSTON (AP) - A former Enron Corp. executive found shot to death in
his car in an apparent suicide had reportedly challenged the company's
accounting practices almost a year before it plunged into bankruptcy.
- J. Clifford Baxter, who resigned as vice
chairman in May, was named in an explosive warning that another Enron executive
sent to company Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Lay in August about
questionable financial practices.
- ``Cliff Baxter complained mightily to
(then-CEO Jeff) Skilling and all who would listen about the inappropriateness
of our transactions with LJM,'' Sherron Watkins wrote. LJM is one of the
partnerships apparently used to keep a half-billion dollars in losses off
- The same letter warned, ``we will implode
in a wave of accounting scandals'' unless Enron changes its practices.
- On Friday, Baxter was found dead in a
Mercedes-Benz parked on a median not far from his home in the affluent
Houston suburb of Sugar Land. He had been shot in the head.
- Police found a suicide note and said
a .38-caliber revolver was at his side. The contents of the note were not
disclosed. His death was ruled a suicide.
- Baxter, 43, left Enron several months
before the company collapsed in the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
- Enron's sudden downfall and financial
practices are now under investigation by federal prosecutors, the FBI ,
securities regulators and 11 congressional committees. Lay, a focus of
the investigations and one of President Bush's strongest supporters, resigned
- Even though Watkins' note showed that
Baxter had questioned Enron's accounting practices, he still faced questions
in the investigation and was named in a shareholder lawsuit.
- The lawsuit allege that 29 people made
$1.1 billion by selling Enron stock between October 1998 and November 2001.
It says Baxter had sold 577,436 shares for $35.2 million before the company's
- Thousands of Enron workers lost their
jobs and watched their retirement savings all but evaporate after the company
disclosed its losses and the value of Enron stock plummeted.
- ``I have no inkling whether the unfortunate
event had anything to do with the investigation,'' said Baxter's attorney,
- With their home under guard by four police
officers, Baxter's family released a statement Friday pleading for privacy.
- ``We are suffering the loss of our beloved
husband, father and friend and respectfully wish not to be disturbed at
this time,'' the statement said.
- Enron released a statement Friday, saying,
``We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague,
Cliff Baxter. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.''
- Enron spokesman Mark Palmer had no additional
- When Baxter resigned from Enron, the
company said his primary motive was to spend more time with his family.
Skilling said then that ``his creativity, intelligence, sense of humor
and straightforward manner have been assets to the company throughout his
- Baxter was born in Amityville, N.Y.,
and graduated from New York University. He was a captain in the Air Force
from 1980 to 1985 and received an MBA in 1987 from Columbia University,
where he was valedictorian, according to the company.
- Baxter joined Enron in 1991. He was chairman
and CEO of Enron North America, which encompassed Enron's energy trading
operation, before being named chief strategy officer and then vice chairman
of Enron Corp., the company said.