Countdown to a corporate collapse

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August 2001 - Sherron Watkins discovers accountancy fraud and alerts Ken Lay, chairman of Enron

October 2001 - Enron problems revealed when it posts $618m loss and a $1.2bn drop in shareholder funds. Andrew Fastow ousted as chief finance officer. SEC launches formal investigation into the company

November 2001 - Enron reveals it has overstated earnings by $567m since 1997. SEC investigation expands to include Enron's auditors, Arthur Andersen

December 2001 - Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 4,500 employees lose their jobs

January 2002 - Criminal investigation into Enron begins by the US Justice Department. Congressional hearings are opened

February 2002 - Sherron Watkins testifies before Congress, implicating Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive, and Andrew Fastow in company's demise

August 2002 - Michael Kopper, former Enron executive, becomes the first to be found guilty of criminal charges

October 2002 - Andrew Fastow charged with 78 counts of conspiracy

September 2003 - Former Enron treasurer Ben Gilsen becomes first employee to be jailed for criminal conspiracy