Ex-Enron vice chair commits suicide


J. Clifford Baxter resigned from Enron Corp. He will continue to work for the company as a consultant.


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Ex-Enron vice chair commits suicide

. Clifford Baxter found dead of gunshot wound to the head

Jan. 25 — Former Enron Vice Chairman J. Clifford Baxter was found dead in his car in a Houston suburb Friday. Texas police said the cause of death was suicide.


 BAXTER, 43, WAS vice chairman of Enron when he resigned in May 2001, several months before the energy company’s collapse. Sugar Land police department spokeswoman Patricia Whitty said Baxter was found inside his car early on Friday with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head, and a suicide note at his side. There were no apparent signs of foul play, she said.

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Ex-Enron vice chair commits suicide
January 25, 2002 — Sgt. Truman Body of Sugar Land, Texas police department, said police discovered J. Clifford Baxter’s body on routine patrol early Friday.

       Enron confirmed the death in a short statement: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Cliff Baxter.”
       Enron spokesman Mark Palmer had no additional comment.

 Baxter’s body was found at 2:23 a.m. local time Friday in between two medians in a residential area in Sugar Land. He was in the driver’s seat of the vehicle and a police officer stopped to check on him after noticing the parked car.
       Jim Richard, a Fort Bend County justice of the peace, ruled Baxter’s death a suicide mid-morning Friday.
       “We don’t have any other indication other than it being suicide,” said Sugar Land police Capt. David Marcaurele.

 Baxter was one of 29 former and current Enron executives and board members named as defendants in a federal lawsuit. Plaintiffs’ lawyers said the executives made $1.1 billion by selling Enron stock between October 1998 and November 2001.
       It said Baxter had sold 577,436 shares for $35.2 million.
Baxter had reportedly feuded with then-Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling over the propriety of off-balance sheet transactions that hid billions in debt and ultimately triggered the once-mighty Houston company’s spiral into the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

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Cliff Baxter complained mightily to Skilling and all who would listen about the inappropriateness of our transactions,” Enron whistle-blower Sherron Watkins wrote to Chairman and CEO Ken Lay, who resigned on Wednesday, in an Aug. 14 letter. Watkins identified Baxter in a section of her letter stating there is “a veil of secrecy around LJM and Raptor,” another entity involved in the partnerships.
Watkins’ letter to Lay stated that “we will implode in a wave of accounting scandals” unless the company halted practices that eventually sent it into bankruptcy.

       Enron in October became the focus on an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over the off-balance sheet transactions. Separate investigations were later taken up by various committees in Congress, and the Justice and Labor departments.


 EnronTimeline_header.gif (1947 bytes)
 |  1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
Ken Lay is appointed chairman and chief executive after Enron is formed from the merger of natural gas pipeline companies Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth.
Jeff Skilling becomes Enron’s president and chief operating officer.
Enron acquires electric utility holding company Portland General Corp. in a $2.1 billion stock swap.
Enron buys Britain’s Wessex Water for $2.2 billion.
August 1999
Enron withdraws from oil and natural gas production with divestment of its remaining stake in subsidiary Enron Oil & Gas Co. which is renamed EOG Resources.
Source: Reuters
Printable version

Baxter joined Enron in 1991 and was chairman and CEO of Enron North America prior to being named chief strategy officer for Enron Corp. in June 2000 and vice chairman in October 2000, according to the company’s Web site.
       In May 2001, he resigned from the company but stayed on as a consultant, according to a news release issued at the time, which said the main reason for his resignation was to spend more time with his family.
       Baxter, a native of Amityville, N.Y., received a bachelor’s degree with honors from New York University and in 1987 got an MBA from Columbia University, where he was valedictorian, according to Enron.



Ladies & gentlemen:

John Clifford Baxter, 43 years old, and former executive of the collapsed Enron Corporation, is dead. He was found inside his locked
automobile with a gunshot wound to the head, along with a .38-caliber handgun.

Baxter resigned last May after complaining about Enron's accounting practices. He immediately cashed in 22 million dollars worth
of Enron stock he held.

Reportedly, he left a suicide note that mentioned Enron.

So how come he's dead? Here's a guy who saw the writing on the wall at Enron, protested what he read on that wall, and got out
with 22 million bucks in hand. Why, oh why would a guy like that take his own life? Perhaps the only thing he didn't do right, and
should have done, is run to the authorities with what he knew. But then, if he did know something was amiss at Enron and cashed
in his stock, wouldn't that be prosecutable as insider trading? Hmm....

This "suicide" stinks. At the time of his death, Baxter was being sought by congressional investigators to tell what he knew about
the impending collapse of Enron when he resigned. Even if he thought he might be implicated, 22 million dollars carefully salted
away ala Carl Worden-style will buy three O.J. Simpson-type defense teams. So why would a young guy like Baxter off himself?
Reportedly, his friends and family are stunned, never seeing anything in his demeanor indicating depression or anxiety in the days
prior to his death.

Call me crazy, but unless something scandalous and irrefutable is discovered about Baxter and his executive actions at Enron, what
he found out when he left Enron presented a tremendous threat to the executives he left behind -- those former executives with
Enron who now face a real probability of going to prison. I don't see any good reason for Baxter to have killed himself, but I can
think of a whole bunch of good reasons why certain individuals would want to see him dead.

What an amazingly convenient suicide.

Carl F. Worden


'Suicide' Baxter Talked About Hiring Bodyguard



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