Corporations and securities brief ~ Lay, Skilling trial judge eyes summer start for trial

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's corporations and securities law news, the judge in the trial of former Enron [corporate website; JURIST Hot Topic] Chairman Ken Lay [Wikipedia profile] and ex-Chief Executive Jeff Skilling [Wikipedia profile] is asking defense attorneys and prosecutors for potential scheduling conflicts between June and September. The dates indicate the judge is eyeing a summer start for the trial. Defense attorneys are already citing conflicts in their schedules in a bid to push the trial back. Read the indictment [PDF] and SEC complaint [PDF] against Lay and Skilling. The Houston Chronicle has more and continuing coverage of the Enron collapse.

In other news...

  • The European Court of Human Rights [official website] ruled that two activists who have been fighting a libel action from McDonald's [corporate website] should have been given legal aid. The court ruled that the lack of aid denied the pair a fair trial as guaranteed under the Human Rights Convention [text]. The court also ruled that their freedom of expression was violated by the 1997 judgment. The pair was found guilty of libel after they handed out leaflets containing numerous allegations about the corporation's policies and practices. Read a summary of the decision. McSpotlight has more information on the "McLibel" trial. BBC News has more.

  • Truck maker Navistar International Corp. [corporate website] announced the SEC has started an informal investigation into the company's restatement of financial results for the past three years. Navistar will cooperate during the probe. AP has more.

  • The SEC [official website] announced a settlement with InVision Technologies Inc. [corporate website], maker of airport bomb-detecting machines over accusations it paid or approved bribes to foreign officials considering buying their product. InVision will pay $1.1 million to settle the civil suit. InVision has already settled with the Justice Department [official website] over similar allegations. Read the SEC litigation release and complaint [PDF]. The San Francisco Chronicle has more.

  • Continental Airlines Inc. [corporate website] announced company directors have accepted a cut in their compensation including 2005 stock option grants and a reduction in the base retainer fees and meeting fees by thirty percent. Read the Continental press release. The Houston Business Journal has more.

  • The SEC announced JPMorgan Chase & Co. [corporate website] will pay a $2.1 million fine to settle allegations it failed to keep e-mails sought by investigators into stock research analyst misconduct. The company will pay $700,000 to the SEC, NYSE [official website], and the NASD [official website]. AP has more.

  • California regulators announced a settlement with Aurora National Life Assurance Co. Inc., for $80 million. The settlement comes days before a civil trial over the purchase of Executive Life by French companies in 1991. Aurora will also admit that its executives made false statements to the state and in exchange will be dropped as a defendant in the civil case. The lawsuit stems from allegations French investors fraudulently obtained the remaining assets of California's largest failed insurance company. AP has more.
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