Friday, October 12, 2007

The Enron whistleblower who wasn't

Lynn Brewer is a former Enron employee who claims she was an executive whistleblower, and has turned that into a career as a highly paid motivational speaker and founder of the Integrity Institute. But it turns out that she was never an executive, she worked in a clerical position writing summaries of gas and energy contracts. The document she claims was a memo in which she blew the whistle is a document her boss says she never saw and described an alleged financial transaction which she never would have done any work on. Her former VP, Tony Mends, says that Brewer was sent to the UK to train Enron employees on the use of Factiva, but she never showed up to conduct the training, instead traveling the UK with her fiance. She claims she had to stay outside of London because of a terrorist threat, but nobody else in the Enron office in London was kept from going to work.

Greg Farrell at USA Today has done a great job of exposing Brewer's claims and how she has capitalized on being confused for Sherron Watkins, who really was an Enron executive whistleblower.

Brewer's web page at "Speaker's Spotlight" shows that she bills herself as "the" Enron whistleblower and is filled with misrepresentations:
Lynn Brewer's notoriety stems from her actions that have dubbed her "the Enron Whistleblower". Her accomplishments include: Author of Confessions of an Enron Executive: A Whistleblowers Story; Earning a Certification in Business Ethics from Colorado State University; Founder and President of The Integrity Institute, Inc., which assesses and certifies corporate integrity at the request of organizations for the benefit of their stakeholders.

Prior to joining Enron, Brewer worked in forensic accounting and spent 18 years as a legal professional in private practice, until she joined Ralston Purina, where she worked in Corporate Development for the General Counsel and Chief Financial Officer.

As an executive at Enron, Ms. Brewer was responsible for Risk Management in Energy Operations, the e-Commerce initiatives for Enron's water subsidiary, and Competitive Intelligence for Enron Broadband Services. Her responsibilities included financial derivatives and the now infamous "off-the-balance sheet" partnerships.

During her nearly three-year tenure, she witnessed numerous instances of illegal and corrupt dealings, including bank fraud, espionage, power price manipulation and the gross overstatements to the press, public and financial world. When her attempts to notify those inside Enron of her knowledge failed, she notified the United States government, who refused to return her e-mails and telephone calls.

Since leaving Enron, Lynn Brewer has become an internationally recognized speaker providing compelling details into Enron's rise and fall, leaving audiences shocked when they realize how vulnerable they are to becoming the next Enron. A past nominee for the “Women of Influence” Award, Brewer was selected in 2006 for inclusion in the 25th Silver Anniversary Edition of Who’s Who of American Women for her contributions to society.
Notice that she doesn't give her actual title; her claim of being responsible for risk management as though she headed a risk management group is untrue. Her boss, Mary Solmonson, was a director, not an executive. Another boss, David Gossett, who reported to VP Mends, was also a director, not an executive.

I suspect we'll see more allegations and stories of deception by Brewer coming to light. I'd like to know if there's any substance to her claim to have experience in the field of forensic accounting prior to working at Enron. Her 18 years experience "as a legal professional in private practice" really means she worked as a paralegal (which was apparently her role at Enron).

Here's an interview transcript where she misrepresents herself from the get-go, answering the question "what was your role at Enron" with:
I was recruited about three years before the implosion of Enron, to head up a risk management group inside the legal department, that would brief, for senior management and the board of directors, these off the balance sheet partnerships at the centre of the scandal.
She didn't head up a risk management group. She didn't brief senior management and the board of directors. She didn't report on the off balance sheet partnerships at the center of the scandal, she wrote summaries of gas and energy contracts for managers.

UPDATE (October 15, 2007): Lynn Brewer was known as EddieLynn Morgan (her maiden name) while she was at Enron, and her name appears in the "Enron corpus" of emails that were made public after the scandal. Studies of the Enron emails have been done to look at the web of interconnections between recipients, which show that EddieLynn Morgan was a very bit player--she is the recipient of a total of four emails in the corpus, and the author of none.

1 comment:

Einzige said...

Yet more weight for my contention that normative words used in the names of organizations are generally negatively correlated with how one might describe said organization's actual behavior.