Doc Enron Scandal Summary Of Its Use And Abuse Of Special Purpose Entities Spe

special purpose entity enron

Third, senior Enron executives, such as CFO Andy Fastow, were principals in many of the SPE’s, not only presenting a material conflict of interest, but also enriched themselves in the process. Fourth, Enron posted large amounts of its stock as collateral to back the financing of many of the SPE’s making the entire financial structure of the firm vulnerable to a material decline in Enron’s stock price . A special purpose vehicle, also called a special purpose entity , is a subsidiary created by a parent company to isolate financial risk. Its legal status as a separate company makes its obligations secure even if the parent company goes bankrupt.

The SPV is often a trust or corporation whose establishment is in the best interests of both originator and investor. The dispute centers on financing arrangements known as special purpose entities that Amerco set up in the mid-1990’s. These were created to help expand the company’s self-storage business without weighing down its balance sheet with debt. Over the past 40 to 50 years, the accounting profession gradually developed general policies governing the consolidation of financial statements of companies and their controlled subsidiaries and affiliates.

special purpose entity enron

Statement 140 does not specifically define the term before maturity. However, in describing whether a transferor maintains ledger account effective control over transferred assets through a right and obligation to repurchase, paragraph 213 states that ?.

Response To Enrons Special Purpose Entities

1.) Summarize the plan to guarantee liquidity in commercial paper markets as described in the related article. The role of banks in enabling Enron, the disgraced US energy giant, to avoid taxes worldwide, is welldocumented by the US Senate joint committee on retained earnings taxation. Enron used complex corporate structures and transactions to avoid taxes in the US and many other countries. The Senate Committee noted that some of the complex schemes were devised by Bankers Trust, Chase Manhattan and Deutsche Bank, among others.

special purpose entity enron

If it is a business operation, the company may be trying to achieve some isolation from potential legal exposure arising from the business. The SPE may also be a vehicle to permit the establishment of a joint venture with another company or investor. These are items that make “financial engineers” special purpose entity enron grin from ear-to-ear. They provide clever — though usually legitimate — ways for companies to more efficiently raise debt, but they also make it tougher for investors to decipher a company’s actual debt exposure. Lay and Skilling went on trial for their part in the Enron scandal in January 2006.

Iv Enron, Jp Morgan, And Sureties: Recent Abuse

Perhaps this is where Enron’s executives got tripped up – thinking they could keep changing the rules of the game and extend it indefinitely. But these tweaks on the margin paled in comparison to the central thrust of their approach – wagering that Enron stock would continue going up indefinitely. The Raptors 1 transaction transferred Enron stock to Raptor I to hedge a host of merchant investments, such as Avici Systems. The Raptor II transaction was created solely because Raptor 1 had exhausted its credit capacity with the combined declines in bookkeeping both Enron’s merchant investments as well as Enron stock. Raptor III was identical to the other Raptors except it was designed to hedge the value of stock warrants in a company called New Power Holdings with stock warrants in a company called New Power Holdings. That’s what they did with Raptor III. Raptor IV was created to provide financial support to the other three Raptors. But the tech stock bubble collapse throughout 2001, reduced the value of securities and assets in Enron’s merchant portfolio, and created a recession in the US economy.

He also acknowledged that remunerative steps would have to be taken to redress the animosity of many Enron employees towards management after it was revealed that Lay and other officials had sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of stock during the months prior to the crisis. An official at a company owned by Enron stated “We had some married couples who both worked who lost as much as $800,000 or $900,000. It pretty much wiped out every employee’s savings plan.” As a measure of how dire Enron’s financial picture had become, the company initially balked at paying its bills for November until the credit agencies gave the merger their blessing and allowed Enron to keep its credit at investment grade. By this time, the Dynegy deal was virtually the only thing keeping the company alive, and Enron officials wanted to keep as much cash in the company’s coffers in the event of bankruptcy.

special purpose entity enron

In both cases, they engaged in gross self-dealing and got scores of employees to facilitate the fraud. A High volume of legal transactions creates opportunities for management to revalue assets and liabilities for their own personal benefit. In fact, this is fairly common in cases of fraud and should be considered, not necessarily a red flag, but a cause for further investigation.

“If a company has four or five of these things, that would be a lot,” says Allen Tucci, a partner at Tucci & Tannenbaum, a Philadelphia law firm that helps set up SPEs. During the mid-1990s, I worked on Wall Street structuring and selling financial instruments and investment vehicles similar to those used by Enron. I teach and research in the areas of financial market regulation, derivatives, and structured finance.


Proceeds from the sale to an SPE in this instance are generally long-term receivables rather than cash (which is the primary reason the sale revenues are not taxed up-front). When the forward sales contracts mature over time, those energy sales at forward prices are used to service the SPE fixed rate debt.

  • This Statement provides consistent standards for distinguishing transfers of financial assets that are sales from transfers that are secured borrowings.
  • The bank also provides a liquidity backstop that protects the debt holders against delayed payments, up to some limit.
  • If the sponsor is the transferor of the financial assets and the SPE meets the ‘qualifying criteria,’ the sponsor can still avoid consolidation, even if the EITF Topic D-14 and related guidelines are not met.
  • Meanwhile, Marriott’s consolidation represents 13% of its assets, or $1 billion.
  • Even if the transfer qualifies as a sale, the provisions of IAS 27 and SIC-12 may mean that the enterprise should consolidate the SPE.
  • And companies as diverse as Target and Xerox use SPEs for factoring–the centuries-old practice of generating cash by selling off receivables.

The Powers Report concluded that the contract was actually entered into in mid-September, when the stock was trading at a significantly lower price, then backdated to August 3, 2000. By the September 30 quarter-end, Avici was trading at $95.50 per share, and Enron avoided recording any mark-to-market losses.

These partnerships—Chewco, LJM1, and LJM2–were used by Enron Management to enter into transactions that it could not, or would not, do with unrelated commercial entities. Many of the most significant transactions apparently were designed to accomplish favorable financial statement results, not to achieve bonafide economic objectives or to transfer risk. Some transactions were designed so that, had they followed applicable accounting rules, Enron could have kept assets and liabilities off of its balance sheet; but the transactions did not follow those rules. From the perspective of the originator of a cash flow securitization, isolating the assets or cash flows in question in an SPV is often a necessary step to achieve sales accounting treatment under GAAP and thereby remove the assets in question from its balance sheet.

What Is A Spv Ltd Company?

Once the 3% (now 10%) is established, the SPE then finances the remaining funds to acquire the financial assets from the sponsoring company by issuing debt and/or additional equity to institutional investors or public shareholders. Statement 167 will require a company to provide additional disclosures about its involvement with variable interest entities and any significant changes in risk exposure due to that involvement. A company will be required to disclose how its involvement with a variable interest entity affects the company’s financial statements.

Those standards rework existing rules under FIN 46R for when a company must include a VIE on its books with a potentially huge impact on corporate balance sheets. Statement 167 is a revision to FASB Interpretation No. 46, Consolidation of Variable Interest Entities, and changes how a company determines when an entity that is insufficiently capitalized or is not controlled through voting should be consolidated. The determination of whether a company is required to consolidate an entity is based on, among other things, an entity’s purpose and design and a company’s ability to direct the activities of the entity that most significantly impact the entity’s economic performance.

Spes In Risk Finance

Additionally, many of Enron’s major assets were pledged to lenders in order to secure loans, causing doubt about what, if anything, unsecured creditors and eventually stockholders might receive in bankruptcy proceedings. As it turned out, new corporate treasurer Ray Bowen had known as early as the day Dynegy pulled out of the deal that Enron was headed for bankruptcy. He spent most of the next two days scrambling to find a bank who would take Enron’s remaining cash after pulling all of its money out of Citibank. Although they had seemingly ironed out a number of outstanding issues at a meeting in New York over the previous weekend, ultimately Dynegy’s concerns about Enron’s liquidity and dwindling business proved insurmountable.

When these investments went south, Enron’s attempts to shore the Raptors up with its own stock proved to be a temporary solution at best. The presence of Enron’s CFO on the board of directors of the SPE that funded the Raptors, LJM2, probably ensured that the entire house of cards would eventually come down. The authors detail the byzantine structures of these SPEs and demonstrate how existing GAAP requirements, though somewhat ambiguous, should have led to different treatment.

How Do Firms Use Spes?

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