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Indictment Near For Enron's Lay?

Kenneth Lay, Enron Corp.'s founder and former chairman, could be indicted on charges stemming from the company's 2001 collapse by the end of June, sources close to the case told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said federal prosecutors are aggressively pursuing Lay, and witnesses with information about him have recently testified before a special grand jury probing Enron's December 2001 collapse.

Barring any delays, federal prosecutors aim to ask the grand jury to hand up an indictment against the former chairman before the Fourth of July, they said.

The Houston Chronicle first reported in Saturday's editions that Lay could be indicted within the next two weeks, citing unidentified lawyers close to the case.

It was unclear what kinds of charges Lay might face, though the sources said charges likely would include conspiracy for allegedly participating in hiding Enron's true financial condition.

It also was unclear whether Lay could be indicted alone or be added as a defendant to a pending case against former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and former top accountant Richard Causey.

Enron's collapse was the first in a series of corporate scandals. Its collapse destroyed employee retirement accounts, and its bankruptcy cost more than 4,500 workers their jobs.

Lay's Houston-based lawyer, Mike Ramsey, told the Chronicle that while he knows there is an active investigation into his client, he will be surprised if there's an indictment.

"Indict him for what?" Ramsey said Friday. "I don't know what they could charge him with."

The Chronicle point out that, "Lay's lawyers have noted Lay has a good defense to insider trading charges because he held on to much of his Enron stock even as the company went bankrupt. And they said most of the millions in cash he borrowed from the company and paid back with stock was used to pay off other debt created by the fall of the price of Enron stock."

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