Jan. 29, 2002 -- Enron kept shredding company documents after a company directive to stop the practice, including shredding some papers as recently as this month, and on a much larger scale than previously acknowledged, ABCNEWS learned today.
Last week Enron attorney Bob Bennett told ABCNEWS all employees had been forbidden to shred any documents as of Oct. 25.
"At a very early time, the legal team made all employees aware of the pending litigation and that all documents should be retained," Bennett told ABCNEWS. "If anyone has disobeyed that policy or if anyone is discovered to have shredded documents, it will not be tolerated and severe action will be taken."
But today Bennett said Enron called in a huge mobile shredding truck from the Shredco company in December, and shredders from another company in January, to destroy documents at its Houston headquarters.
Enron said the documents, which are turned into confetti at a rate of 7,000 pounds an hour, were not covered by any subpoenas and were business proposals, payroll material, and credit union documents.
The chairman of a House subcommittee investigating Enron, Rep. Jim Greenwood, called it unacceptable. "That's outrageous," said the Pennsylvania Republican. "Enron is being investigated by the Congress, by the Justice Department, by the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission]. They shouldn't shred so much as an old newspaper without letting us know what they're doing ahead of time."
The federal investigation of Enron began in the last week of October, but it was not until last week that Enron says it finally stopped all shredding and turned away the shredding trucks, part of what the company calls an expanded policy on handling documents.
Shredding Shouldn’t Have Happened
Enron's lawyers insist no pertinent evidence has been destroyed in the most recent shredding.
But outraged federal investigators say that's something for them to decide, not Enron.
The Shredco Web site guarantees destruction: "You threw it away. Or so you thought. Now you're being sued. Don't just throw it away. Destroy it!"
And there's little chance of ever putting the pieces back together. "It would be virtually impossible given the sheer nature of the volume that a commercial shredder deals with," said David Culbertson, the president of the National Association of Information Destruction and Houston's Texas Shredding Co.