Ken's Lay's record: to clear or not to clear

Even after his death, Ken Lay continues to shape the debate over corporate crime and punishment.

Prosecutors have asked the court hold off the late Enron chief's fraud and conspiracy convictions from the books until Congress can consider a U.S. Department of Justice proposal to take such power away from the courts by creating a new law.

That law stops courts from scrapping criminal convictions if a defendant dies before going through the entire appeals process. Under the "doctrine of Abatement", a conviction against a defendant who dies before the appeal, and even the indictment, can be thrown out. That's in the interest of natural justice.

But it also generally hinders efforts to collect civil penalties from the families of deceased defendants. And with the Enron case so politically loaded – it resulted in Sarbanes-Oxley and let's not forget the links between Kenny Boy and the President – it's no surprise that the DOJ wants Congress to pass the law in an effort to recover more than $40 million from Lay's estate. That's natural justice too.

But there are serious doubts whether Congress will pass the law, reports Time magazine.

Critics of the move say it's vindictive and serves no real purpose. In the end, it's a matter of how you define natural justice.


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