[JURIST] Defense lawyers in the Enron [corporate website; JURIST news archive] fraud trial Monday finished their cross-examination of former Chief Financial Officer and lead government witness Andrew Fastow [JURIST news archive], bringing to a conclusion his four-day stint on the witness stand. Fastow testified [JURIST report] that he had stolen millions before the company's collapse in 2001 and that he had lied to investigators until he reached a plea bargain with prosecutors in 2004. Defense lawyers for former Enron chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeff Skilling [Houston Chronicle profiles] sought to undermine Fastow and his testimony, but trial observers said it appeared that his evidence was consistent with earlier government witnesses. Defense lawyer Michael Ramsey focused on Fastow's testimony about a meeting he had with Lay in August 2001 after Lay took over the CEO position from Skilling, which Ramsey said contradicted Fastow's later actions in meeting with investment bank Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Fastow pleaded guilty [plea agreement, PDF] in 2004 to conspiracy charges and accepted a 10-year prison sentence, but Lay and Skilling both face millions in fines and decades of imprisonment if convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges. Fastow is expected to be followed on the witness by another former executive, Sherron Watkins [Time profile], whose memo to Lay in 2001 warned that public knowledge of Enron's activities could result in an accounting scandal. The Los Angeles Times has more.