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New York�The investigation headed by Neal Batson, the court-appointed examiner for Enron Corp.’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has resulted in billings to the Enron estate of more than $100 million since it started in the summer of 2002. The investigation, which produced more than 4,000 pages in four reports, is almost certainly the most expensive such inquiry in U.S. history. In October alone, more than three dozen partners and counsel, 33 associates and four contract attorneys at Batson’s firm, Atlanta’s Alston & Bird, billed Enron more than $5 million for more than 11,000 hours of work. “$100 million is a phenomenal amount of money for doing just about anything,” said Stuart Hirshfield, a bankruptcy partner in the New York office of Boston-based Ropes & Gray. “You have to start out with that idea in determining whether it was ultimately to everyone’s benefit.” The role of a bankruptcy examiner is to identify causes of action that may lead to recoveries that enlarge the estate to the benefit of its creditors, and to provide an account of what went wrong. Whether Batson’s investigation advanced either goal enough to justify the expense could cast a shadow on the course of the Enron bankruptcy, especially now that Batson is trying to close the door on the matter himself. He and his firm submitted their final report last month. Batson did not return a call seeking comment. Last month he filed a motion seeking to have himself discharged as the Enron examiner. He also sought protection from future discovery and liability and permission from the court to destroy many of the documents he obtained in the investigation. Batson’s motion was greeted with objections from many quarters, including Enron itself and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors. Enron’s lawyers at Weil, Gotshal & Manges of New York asked Bankruptcy Judge Arthur J. Gonzalez in New York to reject Batson’s requests for broad immunity, saying the company may need documents he has in litigation. ‘An obligation’ In a hearing on Dec. 3, Gonzalez signaled his likely approval of Batson’s discharge but adjourned a hearing on the immunity and document retention issues until Dec. 18. Gonzalez granted a protective order preventing the release of transcripts of interviews Batson and his staff had conducted with executives at several banks that had dealings with Enron. The transcripts had been sought by plaintiffs in the shareholder class action in federal court in Houston. Larren M. Nashelsky, a bankruptcy partner in the New York office of San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster, said Batson has a responsibility to continue to play a role in the process. “There really is an obligation to make himself available to explain his findings,” he said. Nashelsky said the cost of the investigation could make courts in the future think twice about giving an examiner such broad latitude. But he also said, “In fairness, it’s probably the most complicated [bankruptcy] in terms of scope and the fraud involved that’s ever taken place.” The costs could be reasonable “given the complexity of the matter and the lack of forthcoming of the people involved,” he said.

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