Risk & Compliance

Skilling Stands Down

Ex-Enron chief Jeffrey Skilling wrapped up his testimony Thursday. Kenneth Lay is expected to take the stand Monday.
Stephen TaubApril 21, 2006

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Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling completed his testimony Thursday, setting the stage for his former boss, Kenneth Lay, to take the stand next week.

Outside the courthouse, Skilling told reporters, “It’s been a tough six years; it’s been a really hard six years.”

Before he left the witness stand, The Houston Chronicle reported, Skilling once again denied that he misled investors, defended the company’s energy and Internet units, and disputed charges that the company artificially boosted earnings.

“The whole characterization of reserves as a ‘cookie jar’ is demonstrably untrue,” he said, according to the paper.

The Chronicle also noted that prosecutor Sean Berkowitz questioned Skilling once again about his personal dealings with Jennifer Binder, whose Internet image company did business with Enron. Berkowitz accused Skilling of backdating a $10,000 check to circumvent gift tax rules.

“What does this have to do with fraud at Enron Corporation, just out of curiosity?” Skilling reportedly asked. Pressed by Berkowitz, Skilling acknowledged he and Binder had once dated and remain friends.

In the afternoon, the defense trotted out eight witnesses, some for just a few minutes, according to the Chronicle. Most were described as character witnesses for Skilling and Lay, but others were brought in to address specific issues. For example, Sue Lowe, Skilling’s ex-wife, was called to the stand to discuss why she sold a large amount of Enron stock she owned in October 2000.

“We sold the options because we were worried about the stock market,” she reportedly said. “Me and [her current husband] are very conservative investors and wanted to move our money into bonds,” she said, according to the Chronicle.

She also reportedly told jurors that Skilling did not tell her to sell the stock and she didn’t tell him about the transaction.