President George Bush has been taking an aggressive stand against the corporate and accounting tricks that brought Enron and others to public ruin. But his own past actions are now sneaking up to haunt him. It seems he may have been guilty of similar tricks.
While he was a director of the energy firm Harken in 1990, the firm's lawyers warned executives not to cash in any stock if they had any negative information about the company. Harken was actually engineering finances to stay afloat at the time. They used an off-balance sheet entity to rid its books of poorly performing assets and debts. The following week, Bush cashed in shares worth $848,000.
This began an inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which continued until August 1991.
Bush claimed ignorance of the firm's problems. No action was taken against him.
The lawyer's written warning to the firm was kept under wraps until the day after the inquiry ended. This information has recently been brought to light by a securities lawyer through the Freedom of Information Act.
Vice-president Dick Cheney is also under scrutiny. Halliburton, an oil services firm in Dallas, is being investigated by the SEC for an accounting change that flattered its profits -- during Cheney's involvement with the firm.
The SEC chairman, appointed by Pres. Bush, is also under pressure to quit because of alleged mismanagement.