Washington — Congress dug forcefully into the Enron debacle on Tuesday with a second subpoena for Kenneth Lay, the former chairman of the energy trading firm, and a sympathetic hearing for a laid-off employee whose retirement savings all but disappeared when the company failed.
"This should not and cannot ever happen again in America," said Deborah Perrotta, who tearfully told lawmakers she lost $40,000 from her retirement account when Enron's stock price plummeted last fall.
Millions of investors lost money, and thousands of current and former Enron employees lost the great bulk of their retirement savings when the company collapsed.
Lawmakers pummelled the head of Arthur Andersen, Enron's former accounting firm, for its handling of the energy firm's books. "At the end of the day, we do not cause companies to fail," said Joseph Berardino, chief executive officer of Andersen Worldwide.
The vote was unanimous in the Senate Commerce Committee to compel Lay's appearance Feb. 12. "We have no choice," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., one day after Lay scrubbed a voluntary appearance.
Lay's attorney, Earl Silbert, said he had already accepted a subpoena to testify before a House committee investigating the company.
The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission also are investigating the bankruptcy.
"This is a business problem that our Justice Department is going to investigate, and if there's wrongdoing we'll hold them accountable for mistreatment of employees and shareholders," President Bush told reporters during the day.