FirstEnergy filing says Ohio bribery probe could pose risks to utility’s financial status

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Cleveland.com:FirstEnergy officials said Monday they will not comment further on what prompted the company to fire its CEO and two other top executives late last week, other than the decision was set in motion following a Sept. 2 subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.But a new company regulatory filing says “potential criminal or civil liabilities” related to myriad ongoing federal investigations and lawsuits into Ohio House Bill 6 are among the possible risks to the company’s reputation or financial condition. The company also said in a Friday filing it’s launched an internal process to strengthen its internal governance and compliance measures.Acting CEO Steve Strah, who took over after the company fired former CEO Chuck Jones last Thursday, said Monday the company won’t comment while the federal investigations are ongoing. He also said it would be “premature” to say whether FirstEnergy’s ongoing internal review, which began after the SEC subpoena, might find violations by other company officials.Strah’s comments, and FirstEnergy’s identification of possible criminal charges, are a change in tone from the company’s previous conference call in July, led by Jones. In that July 24 call, held three days after the FBI arrested and charged former House Speaker Larry Householder, revealing the investigation to the public, Jones told investors the company had done nothing wrong.Last Thursday, FirstEnergy announced the firings of Jones and two others — Senior Vice President of Product Development, Marketing, and Branding Dennis Chack, and Senior Vice President of External Affairs Mike Dowling — citing unspecified violations of company policy.Also on Thursday, two political operatives arrested with Householder — Jeff Longstreth, Householder’s top political aide, and Juan Cespedes, a lobbyist for the company formerly known as FirstEnergy Solutions — pleaded guilty to federal charges. They admitted to participating in what federal prosecutors have described as a complex $61 million bribery scheme through which Householder helped deliver HB6, a $1 billion bailout to two nuclear plants formerly owned by FirstEnergy. FirstEnergy and its affiliates gave the $61 million to a network of political groups that helped Householder gain his legislative leadership position, pressure state lawmakers to pass HB6, and then to defend the bill against a repeal effort, according to prosecutors.FirstEnergy officials have not been charged or officially named in the probe, but charging documents make clear the company is central to the alleged bribery scheme. Southern District of Ohio U.S. Attorney David DeVillers said Thursday the investigation is ongoing.[Andrew J. Tobias]More: In federal filing, FirstEnergy officials say criminal charges possible from federal House Bill 6 bribery probe FirstEnergy filing says Ohio bribery probe could pose risks to utility’s financial statuslast_img read more