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Unite Files Lawsuit Against Enron, Auditor

<CS:BOLD>WASHINGTON -- UNITE claims to have lost "several million dollars" in retirement-fund investments in the Enron debacle and has filed a federal securities lawsuit in Houston against the energy giant and its auditor Arthur Andersen.<BR><BR>Bruce...

WASHINGTON — UNITE claims to have lost “several million dollars” in retirement-fund investments in the Enron debacle and has filed a federal securities lawsuit in Houston against the energy giant and its auditor Arthur Andersen.

Bruce Raynor, president of the apparel union, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, said UNITE currently has 250,000 retirees who participate in the pension fund.

While the Enron collapse — the subject of a dozen Congressional committee investigations, as well as Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department investigations — did not affect UNITE’s individual retirees’ pension checks, Raynor said the overall pension fund showed slower growth as a result of the losses associated with Enron.

Houston-based Enron entered the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history on Dec. 2.

UNITE members participate in over 35 multi-employer retirement and other benefit plans through the union-owned Amalgamated Bank with total assets of over $4 billion, according to Raynor. Amalgamated acts as a financial adviser and custodian on benefit retirement plans.

“Our pension funds are in solid shape because of a diversified investment strategy,” said Raynor in a phone interview. “Unfortunately, our earnings were sliced by what happened at Enron.”

On Dec. 5, Amalgamated bank filed a securities class-action lawsuit against Enron, its former chairman and chief executive, Kenneth Lay, other high-ranking Enron officials and Arthur Andersen for insider trading, breach of their disclosure duties to their shareholders and other wholesale violations of the nation’s securities laws.

“Enron, by lying and covering up and doing illicit things with Arthur Andersen, lied to the market and the market mispriced the stock,” said Raynor. “The idea that garment, textile, retail and laundry workers have to pay a price due to what executive crooks and legal counsel did is outrageous.”