Text of statement made by former Enron chief executive officer Kenneth Lay before the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday:

A very brief statement, Mr. Chairman.

I come here today with a profound sadness about what has happened to Enron, its current and former employees, retirees, shareholders and other stakeholders.

I've also wanted to respond to the best of my knowledge and recollection to the questions you and your colleagues have about the collapse of Enron. I have, however, been instructed by my counsel not to testify based on my Fifth Amendment constitutional rights.

I am deeply troubled about asserting these rights because it may be perceived by some that I have something to hide.

But after agonizing consideration, I cannot disregard my counsel's instruction. Therefore, I must respectfully decline to answer on Fifth Amendment grounds all the questions of this committee and subcommittee and of those of any other congressional committee and subcommittee.

When providing their instruction, my counsel referred me to an excerpt from a unanimous Supreme Court decision of less than a year ago.

``One of the Fifth Amendment's basic functions is to protect innocent men.''

I respectfully ask you not to draw a negative inference because I am asserting my Fifth Amendment constitutional protection on instruction of counsel.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.