The executive who profited most before Enron's collapse may owe his vast fortune -- and his very freedom -- to a major enemy.

Lou Pai lucked out because his marriage unraveled before Enron itself did. The former Enron executive, blamed for some of the company's biggest flops, sold $270 million worth of Enron stock to raise money for an expensive divorce settlement in the first half of 2000. But Pai cashed out only after a friend of the family began to plot against him.

Although he burst into the spotlight after Enron's bankruptcy -- and remains a target in shareholder lawsuits -- Pai has attracted less scrutiny than some of his former colleagues. His name resurfaced, however, during a recent civil trial carried out as the government prepared criminal charges against former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling.

Last month, Theodore Hasson won a multimillion-dollar jury verdict against Pai's ex-wife -- but guaranteed, in part, by Pai himself -- for his role in shaping the couple's divorce settlement. Pai's former wife, Lanna, secretly hired Hasson to evaluate her husband's real net worth and devise a scheme that would leave her with a fair share of his estate.

Pai, who was never close to Hasson himself, remained oblivious to the plot for a while. But Lanna Pai apparently relied on Hasson for a lot.

"The friendship between Lanna Pai and her children and the Hasson family became closer as the marriage between Lanna Pai and Lou Pai deteriorated and disintegrated," Hasson's complaint states. The Hassons "provided support, sympathy, encouragement and friendship to Lanna Pai and her children during this disastrous and difficult time."

Meanwhile, Hasson spent months working behind the scenes on a strategy that led Pai to sell tons of Enron stock and split the proceeds with his first wife. As compensation, Hasson expected 10% of Lanna Pai's settlement. According to court documents, however, Pai learned of Hasson's involvement and pushed his ex-wife to deny Hasson compensation.

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