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House Committee Calls David Duncan

Aired January 24, 2002 - 10:40   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We take you live now to Capitol Hill. This is the House Energy and Commerce Committee looking into the Enron debacle. Coming to the chair right now, David Duncan, former Arthur Andersen partner. He is expected to plead the fifth. Let's listen in to his testimony.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. JAMES GREENWOOD (R-PA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE: ..."rely on his constitutional right not to testify," close quote.

I believe that this privilege should be personally exercised by -- before the members, and that's why we have requested Mr. Duncan's appearance here today and request that he reconsider.

Mr. Duncan, you are aware that the committee is holding an investigative hearing and that, when doing so, we have the practice of taking testimony under oath. Do you have objection to testifying under oath?

DUNCAN: No, sir.

GREENWOOD: Thank you.

The chair also advises you that, under the rules of the House and the rules of the committee, you are entitled to be advised by counsel.

Do you desire to be advised by counsel during your testimony today?

DUNCAN: Yes, sir.

GREENWOOD: OK. In that case, would you please rise and raise your right hand, and I will swear you in.

Mr. Duncan, do you swear that you will tell -- the testimony you will give this committee is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

DUNCAN: Yes, I do.

GREENWOOD: Thank you, Mr. Duncan. You are now under oath, and you may give a five-minute summary of your written testimony if you choose to.

DUNCAN: I have no summary, sir.

GREENWOOD: OK. The chair will recognize himself for questioning.

Mr. Duncan, Enron robbed the bank. Arthur Andersen provided the getaway car, and they say you were at the wheel.

I have a specific question for you, Mr. Duncan. You were fired by Andersen last week for orchestrating an expedited effort among the Andersen-Enron engagement team to destroy thousands of paper documents and electronic files relating to the Enron matter after learning of an inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission into Enron's complex financial transactions.

Did you give an order to destroy documents in an attempt to subvert governmental investigations into Enron's financial collapse? And if so, did you do so at the direction or suggestion of anyone at Andersen or at Enron?

DUNCAN: Mr. Chairman, I would like to answer the committee's questions, but on the advice of my counsel I respectfully decline to answer the question based on the protection afforded me under the Constitution of the United States.

GREENWOOD: Let me be clear, Mr. Duncan. Are you refusing to answer the question on the basis of the protections afforded to you under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution?

DUNCAN: Again, on the advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer the question based on the protection afforded me under the United States Constitution.

GREENWOOD: Will you invoke your Fifth Amendment rights in response to all of our questions here today?

DUNCAN: Respectfully, that will be my response to all your questions.

GREENWOOD: I'm disappointed to hear that, but it is therefore the chair's intention to dismiss the witness.

Mr. Duncan, we thank you for your attendance today and your respect for this committee's process. You are dismissed, and perhaps we will see you on another occasion.

DUNCAN: Yes, sir.

GREENWOOD: Continuing on my time...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, could I make a point of inquiry at this time?

GREENWOOD: (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assume the witness is being excused but may be recalled at a later time. Is that correct?

GREENWOOD: That is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that the witness remains...

KAGAN: Very short appearance there by David Duncan, the former Arthur Andersen partner, but very dramatic none the less. Congressman James Greenwood doing the questioning and making some strong statements as well, saying "Enron robbed the bank and Andersen drove the getaway car."

Specifically, Congressman Greenwood wanted to know from David Duncan if he ordered the destruction and the shredding of thousands of Enron documents. As you heard, David Duncan pleading the fifth, and refusing to answer any questions.

We will continue to dip into the Enron hearings with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as they are interesting. Also check in on the Senate side.

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