Corporations & securities brief ~ Ken Lay's wife under investigation for Enron stock sale

[JURIST] In Wednesday's corporations and securities law news, federal officials are investigating former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay's wife in connection with a $1.3 million Enron stock sale just days before the energy company went under. The couple's lawyer indicated the Lays learned about the investigation in circumstantial ways and have not been charged with anything as of yet. The Houston Chronicle has more. In other Enron news, the SEC has barred former top accountant at Enron, Wesley Colwell, from auditing the books of public companies. Colwell agreed to pay $500,000 to settle fraud charges from his time at Enron. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the Enron scandal. AP has more.

In other news, as previously reported on JURIST's Paper Chase, the SEC announced Wednesday that Gary Pilgrim and Harold Baxter, founders of Pilgrim Baxter mutual funds, have agreed to pay $80 million each and be barred from associating with mutual funds in settlement of charges the SEC had brought over market timing abuses. Read the SEC press release, and settlement order. CNN has more.... Kmart Holding Corp. is acquiring department store operator Sears, Roebuck and Co., in a $11 billion deal which will create the nation's third largest retailer. Read the joint press release announcing the merger here. AP has more.... As previously reported on JURIST's Paper Chase, an administrative law judge presiding over a California Public Utilities Commission investigation has concluded that Southern California Gas Company should forfeit $28.8 million in profits earned during the 2000-2001 energy crisis in California, according to a report released late Tuesday. Read the judge's decision here [PDF]. The San Francisco Chronicle has more.... As previously reported on JURIST's Paper Chase, two senior insurance underwriters with Zurich Financial Services, the third-largest commercial insurer in the US, pleaded guilty Tuesday night to charges connected to NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's ongoing insurance bid-rigging investigation. Also Tuesday, Zurich reported receiving a subpoena from the SEC and Spitzer. Spitzer's office has a press release on the plea deal here. JURIST's Paper Chase has ongoing coverage of Spitzer's investigation into the insurance industry. The Business Review has more.... The National Association of Securities Dealers' Mutual Fund Task Force has recommended to the SEC that a stricter regulation of so-called soft dollars on Wall Street is needed. The Street.com has more.

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