updated 12/15/2006 8:07:23 PM ET 2006-12-16T01:07:23

A former director in Enron Corp.’s human resources department has pleaded guilty to defrauding the company of about $3 million in a scheme involving false consultation services, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Christian Deeb Rahaim, 38, of Mandeville, La., faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000. The scheme is not connected to Enron’s 2001 bankruptcy.

During a court hearing Friday, Rahaim admitted that in June 2005 he devised a scheme in which he presented a fraudulent bill to Enron for consultation services in the amount of nearly $1.2 million. He was senior director of benefits in Enron’s human resources department.

Rahaim placed the money in U.S. accounts under his control and used it to pay personal credit card debt, to open personal investment accounts, and to buy a $500,000 home in suburban Houston.

Enron discovered the scheme in November 2005 when employees of Bank One raised questions about Rahaim’s attempt to transfer another $1.8 million that Enron had recently wired to that bank.

Authorities have seized and forfeited the $500,000 home and all funds remaining in the investment accounts funded with the $1.2 million that Rahaim had stolen in June 2005. The $1.8 million unauthorized wire transfer also was recovered.

Rahaim is set to be sentenced on March 26 by U.S. District Judge David Hittner.

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