WASHINGTON – Former Enron Corp. (search) Chairman Ken Lay (search) is expected to be indicted next week over his role in the scandal that rocked corporate America, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
While a last-minute delay was still possible, federal authorities involved with the Justice Department's (search) Enron Task Force expect a federal grand jury next week will return an indictment of Lay, the sources said.
The sources would not discuss what charges might be brought against Lay.
Lay, 62, guided Enron for years, shaping the once-obscure pipeline company into the nation's seventh-largest corporation and a world-leading energy trading concern.
Enron collapsed in a massive scandal in 2001 after the Wall Street darling's abuse of off-the-books partnerships to hide billions of dollars of debt and inflate profits became known.
An attorney for Lay said recently that he has met several times with prosecutors investigating Enron, and that the most recent meeting took place in May. Lay's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
Prosecutors have tapped former Enron employees for information about its inner workings, including former Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow (search). He agreed to cooperate with investigators in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence.
Lay returned to Enron's chief executive post after Jeff Skilling (search) resigned, shortly before the company imploded in late 2001.
Skilling pleaded not guilty in February to counts of fraud, insider trading and misrepresenting Enron's finances.
The fall of Enron touched off investigations that uncovered widespread financial fraud in corporate America and caused the high-flying energy trading industry to collapse.
Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (search) declined to comment.