Enron’s Skilling and Lay Convicted
On the sixth day of their deliberations, the jury convicted former Enron bigwigs Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay of conspiracy and fraud. The jurors found Mr. Skilling guilty on 20 counts of conspiracy, fraud, false statements and insider trading but he beat the rap on eight counts of insider trading. The jury found Mr. Lay guilty on all six counts of conspiracy and fraud that he faced. In a separate bench trial, Judge Sim Lake nailed Mr. Lay on four counts of fraud and false statements. The decades they each face in prison are about right, as is the sentencing date of September 11.
Inevitably, the two felons will appeal their convictions, and they will plead for mercy from the court, and the apologists for the robber-baron ideology that has replaced real capitalism in America will start rewriting history to suggest these two were victims of a vicious government plot. So, before the spin sets in, a recap of facts are in order.
The two men were each Chief Executive Officer of Enron, first Mr. Lay, then Mr. Skilling, then Mr. Lay again. The CEO is the guy in charge. If malfeasance happens on his watch, he is responsible for it. If his underlings do something wrong, it is up to him to fix it. And if he himself countenances such acts, or encourages them, then he’s the biggest crook in the room. They both cooked the books.
These were the two guys who were in charge when the company’s officers set up “off-the-books” partnerships to hide Enron’s trading loses and to inflate its profits. In other words, they lied to investors and potential investors about the company, and they did so to enrich themselves. Mr. Skilling sold Enron shares worth nearly $63 million in 2000 and 2001. Mr. Lay sold more than $300 million in Enron stock between 1989 and 2001.
As a result of their deliberate criminal acts, 4,000 people lost their jobs, and most of them lost their life savings. Investors on Wall Street lost literally billions of dollars. These men hurt a lot of people, and there is no denying it. Willie Sutton once said he robbed banks because that’s where the money is. Compared to these two, Mr. Sutton was a piker.
© Copyright 2006 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Fedora Linux.