The Washington Post

Paul Wong
Former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow is sworn in on Capitol Hill yesterday before subcommittee hearings on Enron began.<br><br>AP PHOTO

Around the corner from Enron founder Kenneth L. Lay”s $7 million penthouse apartment, Michael J. Kopper has almost completed work on his own Houston dream home, a gleaming, modernist house that appears to be made of pale, pearly marble.

There is no grass yet, though there is evidence, small bushes, that the landscapers have begun their work. The house itself looks finished, save for the brown paper that covers the huge front windows and the plywood protecting the front door. There is a three-car garage and a slate driveway, and everything about the house seems sharp-edged and sleek, which makes it stand out in this neighborhood of large, stately brick-and-stucco homes.

When he closed on the property in January 2001 taking out a mortgage in excess of $1 million, according to public records Kopper was a managing director in Enron”s Global Equity Markets Group, earning millions through his work with then-chief financial officer Andrew S. Fastow. He was not, however, one of the high-flying Enron executives cashing in on stockoptions to make dizzying amounts of cash. In fact, he wasn”t even well known inside the company. Lay has told investigators he did not know Kopper at all.

Yesterday, though, Kopper was to join some of Enron”s biggest names Fastow, Lay and former CEO Jeffrey K. Skilling, among others when he was to appear under subpoena before a congressional committee just days after a report prepared by a special committee of Enron”s board portrayed him as one of the major players in the company”s collapse.

Kopper has engaged the international law firm Dechert to represent him, and declined interview requests through both his attorneys and his assistant at LJM2 Capital Management LP, an Enron-related limited partnership where Kopper served as general partner until he was removed last month. Edward B. Horahan III, a financial services and securities litigation lawyer based in Dechert”s Washington office, said Wednesday that Kopper planned to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and that he intended to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights.

According to the Enron report, Kopper was paid $2 million in management “fees” as general partner of Chewco, a limited partnership set up by Fastow.

Kopper, the report said, earned another $10 million when Enron repurchased Chewco. That windfall came from a $125,000 investment made by Kopper and William Dodson, a man who is described in the report as Kopper”s domestic partner and who has shared residences with him since 1997, according to public records.

Kopper brought Dodson into the deals in December 1997, when he transferred his ownership interest in a limited partner of Chewco”s called “Big River Funding LLC” to Dodson, thus giving the appearance, the report says, “that he had no formal interest in Chewco”s limited partner.”

Kopper also is cited as having been one of the six Enron employees including Fastow to participate in a deal named “Southampton Place,” after the neighborhood where both Fastow and Kopper own homes. That deal also drained Enron of cash while lining the investors” pockets, according to the report.

“Michael Kopper,” the report reads, ” enriched himself substantially at Enron”s expense by virtue of his roles in Chewco, Southampton Place, and possibly LJM2.” The report describes these transactions as “inconsistent with his fiduciary duties to Enron,” “unauthorized” by Enron”s board and in violation of its Code of Conduct.

Neighbors had no idea that the low-key couple who live in a well-kept bungalow on Bolsover Street in the upscale Southampton neighborhood had anything to do with Enron.

The house which was extensively renovated three years ago is walking distance from the home where Fastow lives with his wife, Lea, and just one block over from the home of Sherron Watkins, now known as the Enron “whistleblower.” They paid their dues to the neighborhood civic club, and made contributions to the local Center for AIDS. They both drove BMWs Dodson”s a Z3 sports car, Kopper”s a 328is coupe. Dodson worked for Continental Airlines.

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