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Several investment banks and law firms with ties to Enron Corp. will be added as defendants in a securities fraud class action lawsuit filed by investors, people close to the litigation said Thursday. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources said J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Credit Suisse First Boston are among up to eight banks that will named in an amended version of the lawsuit to be filed Monday. Other new defendants will include at least two law firms that advise Enron — Vinson & Elkins in Houston and Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, the sources said. J.P. Morgan and Citigroup were lenders and provided financial services to Enron, while Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse touted Enron stock sales as the company was failing. J.P. Morgan was Enron’s biggest creditor and lost about $2.6 billion when the energy giant collapsed last December, shortly after the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating accounting problems. Citigroup spokesman Daniel Newman said the bank could not comment on the specifics of the suit since it had not yet been filed. But he said, “We believe that our business dealings with Enron were entirely appropriate and therefore we think there’s no merit to this lawsuit.” J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse declined comment. The original lawsuit was filed late last year in Houston on behalf of shareholders and large investors. It targeted 29 current and former Enron executives and board members for $1.1 billion they gained from selling company stock before Enron filed for bankruptcy last December. Those officials include Kenneth Lay, former chairman and chief executive, and Jeff Skilling, who quit as chief executive in August, before the company entered its death spiral. Arthur Andersen LLP also is among the original defendants. But the Chicago-based auditing firm’s perceived ability to pay a large court judgment has ebbed along with its client list in the wake of last month’s federal indictment for destroying documents related to Enron audits. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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