Stephen Cooper, the interim chief executive of Enron, is examining the possibility of launching a string of lawsuits aimed at recovering more cash for the bankrupt group’s creditors. It is also possible that some creditors will launch lawsuits on Enron’s behalf. Cooper has declined to name targets, but one likely prospect is Andersen, Enron’s erstwhile auditors. Leading Wall St analysts including J P Morgan and Saloman Smith Barney have, in denying that they were put under pressure to reinforce Enron’s position, told the Senate investigation that they trusted Enron’s financial statements, certified by Andersen, and were thereby deceived into continuing a ‘buy’ rating even while in reality the company was in the process of collapsing. Andersen itself is in some trouble, haemorrhaging large accounts in the wake of the scandal. Enron has already filed a $10 bn lawsuit against Dynegy, claiming that they were wrong to pull out of the proposed merger.

Mr Cooper’s brief is to sort through Enron’s assets and come up with a plan to repay creditors. He has identified regulated assets in the Americas as the likely core of a new operational company. Meanwhile the process of working through the many claims and counter-claims in the courts, and that of sorting out the thousands of off-balance sheet partnerships created by Enron goes on, the information being passed to congressional investigators as it is uncovered. The entire process is likely to take years, during which time creditors may be offered litigation as a source of value.

In a parallel process nine of the most powerful institutions on Wall St have been asked to turn over thousands of documents about their dealings with Enron. And president Bush, who has stated that he is prepared to fight a long court battle to keep confidential his energy task force’s meetings with Enron executives, is nonetheless strongly urging the Energy Department to release documents related to its work.