Risk & Compliance

Prosecution Wraps Up Skilling Cross-exam

Continues to pick away at the former Enron executive's credibility, trying to show that he made inconsistent statements.
Stephen TaubApril 19, 2006

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On Wednesday, former Enron chief executive officer Jeffrey Skilling made it through a third day of questioning by prosecutor Sean Berkowitz, then was handed over to defense attorney Daniel Petrocelli for re-direct.

Skilling, on trial with former chairman Kenneth Lay, is expected to wrap up his testimony on Thursday.

Berkowitz spent the afternoon session continuing to pick away at the defendant’s credibility, trying to show that he made inconsistent statements.

After asking the former CEO whether he had more than one meeting with Lay following his sudden departure from Enron on August 14, 2001 — Skilling replied that their only meeting was August 22 — Berkowitz produced Skilling’s handwritten calendar, reported the Houston Chronicle. That document reportedly indicated an additional meeting, on September 6 at 3:45 p.m.

What’s more, observed the Chronicle, September 6 was also the day that Skilling was taped talking to his broker trying (unsuccessfully) to sell 200,000 shares of Enron. A major issue in the government’s case is Skilling’s motivation for his (successful) sale of 500,000 shares of Enron on September 17; in earlier testimony, Skilling told jurors that he sold the stock due to general concerns about the stock market following the September 11 attacks. Skilling has testified that he does not remember making the September 6 call, noted the newspaper.

Berkowitz also asked about Skilling’s meeting with Dick Foster, a senior partner at McKinsey (where Skilling used to work), in New York after September 11. The two discussed possibilities that a headhunter had proposed for Skilling, including board seats and the chief executive post at Lucent.

The prosecutor reportedly implied that Skilling told Foster he was considering the Lucent job, and that Foster became angry because he thought Skilling left Enron to spend more time with his family, not to take on another pressure-cooker assignment.

Skilling insisted that he was not considering the position, according to the Chronicle.