A Houston federal judge wiped out the convictions against the late Enron chairman Ken Lay yesterday, reports the Houston Chronicle. The Justice Department had argued against vacating the conviction, saying it would unjustly enrich Lay’s estate by preventing criminal forfeiture proceedings to recover restitution for victims of Enron’s downfall. Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling is to be sentenced Monday.
The ruling does not preclude the U.S. from filing a civil action to seize what it claims would be millions of dollars in assets from Lay’s estate. The Securities and Exchange Commission has a civil proceeding against Lay that it brought in 2004. A Justice Department spokesman said, “We will continue to pursue all remedies available for restitution on behalf of the victims of the fraud at Enron.”