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Chronology of Enron's Empire

by Daphne Wysham and Jim ValletteSustainable Energy and Economy Network (SEEN)
April 11th, 2002

Here is a timeline of events illustrating the players that helped leverage Enron's global reach by providing billions of dollars in public financing. For more information about Enron and international financial institutions, read Daphne Wysham and Jim Vallette's article Enron's Empire.


1973

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil price hikes.


1977

World Bank begins to invest in oil and gas.


1981

Newly elected President Ronald Reagan imposes policy prescriptions as condition of support for World Bank, which includes privatization, deregulation of oil, gas and power markets to increase U.S. access to non-OPEC sources of oil, and increase developing country debt service payments.


1985

USA: Enron Corporation is born from the merger between Houston Natural Gas and Internorth.


1986

Ken Lay named CEO of Enron.


1988

USA: George H.W. Bush elected president Former Enron executives Louis J. Borget and Enron Oil treasurer Thomas N. Mastroeni, accused of diverting $142 million in company funds to Panamanian and other offshore accounts between 1985 and 1987, tried in Manhattan civil courts. An Israeli and two Britons are also accused by Enron of participating in the fraud. CEO Ken Lay claims ignorance of activities.

Argentina: George W. Bush allegedly calls Argentina's Minister of Public Works Rodolfo Terragno to pressure him to accept Enron's ''laughable bid'' for gas pipeline.


1989

Argentina: Newly elected leader of Argentina Carlos Menem accepts Enron bid for pipeline.


1990

USA: Former Enron employees Borget and Mastroeni settle lawsuit, plead guilty of defrauding Enron.


1991

Argentina: World Bank approves loan to privatize Argentina's oil and gas companies.

India: World Bank pushes India to open up to foreign direct investment, particularly in the petroleum sector.


1992

Bolivia: World Bank finances feasibility study to privatize Bolivia's gas networks.

Argentina: OPIC provides $24-62 million annually in insurance over next four years to Enron's pipeline system in southern Argentina.

India: Enron signs memorandum of understanding with India for Dabhol power project worth over $30 billion over its lifetime, the largest in India's history.

USA: William Jefferson Clinton is elected President.


1993

Guatemala: Puerto Quetzal Power Co., created by Enron, who is a 50% owner, goes on line in Guatemala. Guatemalan President Jorge Serrano proposes power rate increases of as much as 100%. Demonstrators take to the streets. President declares martial law, threatens to dissolve Congress. When he fails, Serrano flees the country for Panama.

India: World Bank declares Enron's Dabhol project financially unviable, refuses to fund project.

Philippines: Enron is owner and operator of Batangas and Subic Bay power plants. OPIC provides $30 million in support.

Trinidad and Tobago: OPIC approves $100 million in insurance (no contract issued) for oil and gas development in fields 95% owned by Enron.

Venezuela: U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), COFACE (France), and SACE (Italy) provide $290 million in credits and guarantees for natural gas extraction facilities 50% owned by Enron.


1994

Dominican Republic: World Bank and U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) approve over $200 million in support of loan for barge-mounted power plant in Dominican Republic.

Colombia: World Bank provides $30 million toward Promigas pipeline project, of which Enron is the operator.

India: U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Ex-Im provide $600 million in guarantees and financing for Enron's Dabhol power plant Belgian, Japanese and Indian banks provide additional support over next four years.

Mozambique: After lobbying by U.S. Embassy officials, World Bank approves loan to privatize Mozambique's gas fields. Enron beats out other contenders for control of gas fields, plans to build pipeline to power plant in South Africa for steel plant, all of which would receive World Bank financing.

Philippines: OPIC and Asian Development Bank provide $76 million in loans and insurance for Batangas power plant.

Turkey: OPIC provides $295 million toward power plant 50% owned by Enron.


1995

Dominican Republic: Enron acquires 50% ownership of World Bank-financed power plant in Dominican Republic.

Nigeria: Despite global pleas for clemency, General Sani Abacha hangs Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other opponents of oil company drilling on Ogoni land in Niger Delta. World Bank withdraws from Nigeria, together with other export credit agencies.

Turkey: Ex-Im provides $251 million towards power plant 50% owned by Enron.


1996

Argentina: Enron and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) take over southern Argentina's gas pipeline system.

Bolivia: World Bank approves loan as part of largest ever investment package for Bolivia to build a pipeline from Bolivia to Brazil. OPIC adds support to project. Enron is major shareholder in pipeline.

China: World Bank provides guarantee to Chinese power plant run by Enron.

Colombia: World Bank extends another $35 million toward Enron-operated Promigas project.

Dominican Republic: MARAD provides guarantee for Enron barge in Dominican Republic.

Guatemala: World Bank extends guarantee to Guatemalan Puerto Quetzal Power project.

India: OPIC provides guarantee for Enron's oil and gas field development. Women protesting Enron's Dabhol project are dragged from their homes, beaten by police paid by power consortium of which Enron is a part.

Panama: Export-Import Bank extends guarantee to Bank of Boston for financing sales of gas turbines to Panama's Bahia las Minas power plant, owned by Enron.

Uzbekistan: OPIC provides $400 million to Enron to open up Uzbekistan's gas fields. The project never reaches fruition.

USA: California's Governor Pete Wilson signs bill to deregulate the state's power sector. Clinton is reelected president.


1997

Brazil: Liberalization of energy markets begins. Enron's Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline obtains close to $1 billion in support from Japanese, European, and multilateral development banks.

Gaza Strip: OPIC and World Bank provide $37 million toward Enron power plant in occupied territories.

Indonesia: World Bank provides guarantee to Enron gas-fired power plant in Java.

Nicaragua: MARAD provides guarantee to Enron power plant.

Vietnam: Enron's senior vice president for global affairs testifies before Congress on the need to open up Ex-Im and OPIC financing in Vietnam. Months later, President Clinton revokes ban on government investments in Vietnam, and U.S. Trade and Development Agency (TDA) provides $0.4 million in support of a feasibility study for Enron-related power projects.


1998

Argentina: Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) provides $375 million toward Enron's pipeline system.

Brazil: OPIC approves $200 million toward Enron majority owned Elektro, Sao Paulo's utility and another $200 million toward pipeline project that Enron is involved in from Bolivia.

Dominican Republic: World Bank approves loan to privatize Dominican Republic's power sector.

Panama: (November) International Finance Corporation (IFC) ''guides'' Panama in privatizing its power sector. Enron purchases 51% of Panama's Bahias Las Minas power plant, the largest power plant in Central America. Government promises electric bills will be 10% lower for customers in a year.

Philippines: Enron obtains $16 million from OPIC in insurance for Subic Bay power plant.

Venezuela: OPIC provides $400 million in support of natural gas extraction facilities 50% owned by Enron.


1999

Dominican Republic: Enron is among the companies that rush in for a stake in the DR power sector. Power rates sky-rocket, followed by rolling blackouts. Riots ensue. Eight people killed by riot police.

Panama: (January) World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) provides guarantee, its first ever in Panama, to Enron's Bahia las Minas plant. Rather than rates falling, they rise by 12-14% shortly after Enron takes control of Bahia las Minas plant. When distribution company shuts off power after people refuse to pay higher rates, rioting ensues. Charges of fraud in power purchase deal are alleged.

Nicaragua: Enron power plant goes operational, but runs into problems with state-owned grid. U.S. Government officials intervene on Enron's behalf. UK export credit agency provides additional backing to plant.

Nigeria: (February) Despite allegations of vote fraud, General Olusegun Obasanjo is elected Nigeria's President. World Bank, OPIC, Ex-Im begin exploring investment opportunities.

(December) Enron and AES plan to produce power from gas-fired power plant in Lagos, with aid of OPIC financing, but World Bank intervenes, calling deal too favorable for Enron.

Colombia: (October) Colombian President Andres Pastrana meets with Texas Gov. George Bush and other oil and gas executives, including Enron, to discuss concessions and privatization of the industry.

(December) Scandal wracks the Colombian legislature, forcing the ouster of two legislators over accusations that one man was pushing a sweetheart deal for Enron on the government.


2000

Dominican Republic: UK's export credit agency provides support to DR power plant run by Enron. World Bank tells DR to fully privatize its power distribution network, partly owned by Enron, in order to qualify for further assistance.

Nigeria: (July) Nigerian government offers subsidy to Enron/AES power project to get it started.

Venezuela: Ex-Im provides $65 million in support of natural gas extraction facilities 50% owned by Enron.

Vietnam: TDA provides another $92,000 grant for a feasibility study involving an Enron interest in a power plant.

USA: (November-December) George Bush declared president by the Supreme Court.


2001

Nigeria: (March) Enron's shares in Lagos power plant is sold to AES after government accuses Enron of secrecy and bad faith in contractual obligations. World Bank provides concessional loan to Lagos power plant. World Bank approves loan to privatize Nigeria's power, telecoms, air transport, and Lagos water sectors.

Panama: World Bank's MIGA provides guarantee for Bahia las Minas power plant owned by Enron.

Dominican Republic: (June) President of Dominican Republic pledges to investigate Enron's power ''shortages'' as cause of blackouts in 1998. U.S. Embassy defends Enron against charges of fraud by DR.

(December) Investigators into Dominican Republic's power outages learn that the public assets were sold at a price almost $1 billion lower than they should have been valued. The auditor responsible for the audit of DR's assets: a local subsidiary of Arthur Andersen.

USA: (January) George W. Bush occupies the White House. California suffers rolling blackouts as wholesale power prices jump by 266%. Despite an abundance of power, power companies including Enron claimed the rates were in response to power shortages. Governor Gray Davis signs contract with power producers that lock in $43 billion in power purchases for the state over the following two decades in order to stabilize rates and avoid further blackouts. Enron is among the companies implicated in creating a false power shortage.

(February) Enron CEO Ken Lay meets with Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney's energy task force modifies proposal to include mention of need to boost India's oil and gas production.

(March) Lay meets with Cheney again.

(April) Lay gives Cheney a memo outlining his suggestions for how to address the nation's energy needs. Among other things, Lay asks Cheney to hold off on price caps in California. Within weeks of meeting with Lay, Cheney issues a statement opposing price caps.

(April) Secretary of State Colin Powell raises Dabhol issue in meeting with Jaswant Singh, telling India's foreign minister that ''failure to resolve the matter could have a serious deterrent effect on other investors.''

(April) Cheney issues his national energy plan, after consulting with Lay and Enron officials six times.

(June) OPIC plans discussion of Dabhol power plant ''prior to NSC [National Security Council] meeting.'' India's national security advisor, Brajesh Mishra, invites OPIC President Peter Watson to meet with him at the Indian ambassador's residence to discuss Dabhol project. Vice President Cheney mentions Enron in his meeting with Sonia Gandhi, the president of India's opposition Congress Party. OPIC provides $190 million loan guarantee to Brazilian power plant sponsored by Enron.

(July) Judicial Watch issues lawsuit against Cheney's energy task force seeking information on people Cheney met with in devising his energy strategy.

(July) ''Dabhol Working Group'' is created within National Security Council to advocate on Enron's behalf. Christina Rocca, in charge of Central Asian affairs with the U.S. State Department meets Mishra, speaks to press about Enron.

(August) U.S. Ambassador to India, Mr. Robert D. Blackwill, meets with Indian Government to discuss Enron situation. Rocca meets with Taliban ambassador to Pakistan. Lay writes article in Financial Times threatening India with an end to aid if the Indian government expropriates Enron's Dabhol project.

(September) U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick visits India. U.S. Treasury is told to get the U.S. representative to the World Bank to get the World Bank to express concern to the Government of India over Enron problems.

(September 9) Senior investment officer at OPIC sends Cheney ''talking points'' on Enron, with note: ''Attached are the Dabhol talking points for the Vice President's meeting with Foreign Minister (Jaswant) Singh.''

(September 11) Twin towers of World Trade Center and Pentagon are attacked. Over 4000 killed.

(October) Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business and Agriculture Affairs Alan P. Larson raises Dabhol issue with both Indian Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and Mishra and ''got a commitment to 'try' to get the government energized on this issue prior to the PM's [Prime Minister's] visit to Washington on Nov. 9.'' Larson requests OPIC give him ''one/two bullets for the President [Bush] to use during his meeting with (Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee.''

(November) Email from OPIC investment officer gives OPIC's talking points on Dabhol for Bush's meeting with Prime Minister Vajpayee.

(November 8) Enron discloses it has overstated its earnings by $600 million, dating back to 1997. E-mail discloses that neither Bush nor his economic advisor Lawrence Lindsay could discuss Dabhol.

(December) Argentina declares insolvency; Enron declares Chapter 11, files suit for $200 million coverage with OPIC for Dabhol losses.


2002

(January) U.S. State Department's Larson mentions Dabhol in Delhi meetings with Indian officials.

(February) OPIC cancels further disbursal on support for Cuiaba gas pipeline, and Enron project.

(February 22) GAO sues Cheney for access to information on his meetings in devising national energy strategy.

(March) Arthur Andersen is charged with obstruction of justice by Justice Department.