Remarks of Assistant Director Grant Ashley at a Press Conference Announcing Indictments of Former Westar Energy Executives
|Washington, D.C. December 04, 2003|
The indictment unsealed today is the result of an intensive 14-month investigation by special agents of the FBI and IRS together with the resources of the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force to include the SEC.
As alleged in the indictment, the investigation determined that former Westar executives David Wittig and Douglas Lake used numerous deceptive and fraudulent schemes to ultimately loot a public company they were entrusted to manage. These individuals were personally enriched by more than $32 million dollars through their self-dealing schemes.
As a consequence of their actions, Westar incurred $3 billion in debt, and the share price plummeted from $44 to $9 per share.
In many of the corporate fraud cases the FBI and its partners are pursuing, the victims are numerous, including the shareholders, employees, and pension plan investors.
Furthermore, cases involving self-enrichment often cheat the U.S. Treasury as well as honest taxpayers.
This indictment represents the continued commitment of the Corporate Fraud Task Force to prosecute all aspects of corporate fraud.
I want to thank the FBI agents, support staff, and Corporate Fraud Task Force partners who worked tirelessly and efficiently to investigate this case in a timely manner.
The partners in this investigation include the IRS and the SEC, which contributed expertise from their respective fields to greatly enhance the thoroughness of this investigation.
I also want to thank Assistant Attorney General Chris Wray, Acting Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey, U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway, and Commissioner Mark Everson of the Internal Revenue Service, who is here today.
Finally, an overview of the corporate fraud problem, at the present time the FBI is investigating 146 large scale, high profile, and high loss cases.
The FBI is opening three to six new high profile corporate fraud cases a month. To date, there have been 195 indictments and 107 convictions in these major corporate fraud investigations.
In addition, the FBI is investigating in excess of 1,200 cases that involve securities fraud that are smaller in loss amount, but none-the-less significant to the shareholders and employees of those corporations.