Risk & Compliance

Skilling Rails against Government’s Case

The ex-Enron CEO says prosecutors' descriptions of the failed company's business are "absurd" and a "total misrepresentation."
Stephen TaubApril 13, 2006

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Former Enron Corp. chief executive officer Jeffrey Skilling railed against prosecutors for “re-writing history” by twisting the facts surrounding the former energy giant’s collapse, according to several published reports.

As his attorney Daniel Petrocelli continued going down the list of the 28 charges, Skilling said in his fourth day on the witness stand that the government made “absurd” allegations against him when it characterized Enron’s business in early 2001, according to Bloomberg.

“There’s a lot of damage done to people not as a result of the facts, but as a result of a sort of rewriting of history to accomplish certain objectives people had,” Skilling told jurors, according to the report. The prosecution’s view isn’t “consistent with what really happened at the company,” he added.

According to Bloomberg, Skilling made this comment after Petrocelli asked him about the government’s allegations that he was aware that two of the company’s units were generating millions in losses in March 2001.

“That is absurd. It’s just not true,” Skilling reportedly told jurors.

He said the characterization that the units were failing was “a total misrepresentation of the state of events occurring at the time,” Skilling said, according to Bloomberg.

Skilling, in fact, painted a very rosy picture, noting that by March 2001, the broadband unit had the world’s first video-on-demand system and the California power crisis had delivered millions in profits to the company’s energy retail unit, according to the wire service. “It would be very easy for someone to confirm that if they wanted to confirm that,” Skilling reportedly said, adding that prosecutors “have purposely not looked at facts they should have looked at to come to a more balanced conclusion.”

He also said “inaccuracies” in the charges against him made things even worse for him.

“I bled Enron blue, I believed in this company,” Skilling said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Asked by his lawyer how he felt about Enron’s collapse, Skilling said, “I am devastated by what happened. I am devastated because a fine corporation was brought to its knees unnecessarily . . . the horrific failure of the company has been made worse by these sorts of inaccuracies.”

The Chronicle noted that at one point, Skilling tried to ease off on his diatribe, saying softly, “I’m sorry, I need to calm down a little bit here.”

His lawyer asked him whether he needed a break, but Skilling assured him that he was okay, according to the paper.

But, he then added, “I am not happy about these accusations.”

“Is it difficult to contain how upset you are?” Petrocelli reportedly asked, to which Skilling reportedly replied: “Yes.”

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