Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay has resigned from the company but will maintain a seat on the board, according to a news release posted Wednesday night on the

company's Web site.

The statement said the Houston company


is selecting a "restructuring specialist" to help it emerge from bankruptcy and also to serve as an acting CEO.

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"This was a decision the Board and I reached in cooperation with our Creditors' Committee," Lay said in the release. "I want to seeEnron survive, and for that to happen we need someone at the helm who can focus 100 percent of his efforts on reorganizing the company and preserving value for our creditors and hard-working employees.

"Unfortunately, with the multipleinquiries and investigations that currently require much of my time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to concentrate fully on what is most important to Enron's stakeholders."

Enron filed for bankruptcy in December after being forced to restate its earnings and take a $600 million charge. The company now faces a myriad of inquiries by Congress, the Justice Department, the FBI and the


over questionable accounting practices.

Lay has come under fire for encouraging employees to buy stock even after he received a letter from a whistleblower in August, who predicted the company would "implode in a wave of accounting scandals."