Sunday, January 29, 2006

Enron trial to last four months:

The top two bosses of former energy giant Enron are finally due up in court, with final jury selection starting on Monday.

Five years have passed since Enron collapsed in the wake of revelations that the firm had hidden hundreds of millions of dollars of debts in complex transactions and secret accounts in order to pretend it was profitable.

The scandal, which shook the business world in 2001, saw the mass resignation and arrest of Enron's directors.

Now the two biggest fish are finally up in court - Enron's founder and former chairman Ken Lay, 63, and former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, 52.

Caught in the Enron collapse:

Some who have lost out are angry that former Enron chief Ken Lay, whose trial is to begin on Monday, remains very wealthy.

Professor Nancy Rapaport, Dean of the Law School at the University of Houston, explained that she sees this as one of the chief lessons of the Enron saga - the story of two separate classes competing against each other.

She said that "very smart, very well-off people" had been "going beyond pushing the limits of what the law allowed them to do, and the normal working person was caught in the crosshairs of that.

"So what Enron did was take deals that could be normal in business, and perverted them in a way that allowed Enron to cheat on the structures of the deal.

"At bottom was a cheat on a gigantic scale - and the real question now is, who knew about the cheat, and when?"

Mr Lay faces seven charges of fraud and conspiracy, while former chief executive Jeff Skilling faces 35 separate counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors.

Both men have maintained their innocence throughout.

However, 17 people have already pleaded guilty to various offences connected with the Enron affair, while five others have been convicted.

There are some things money cannot buy.
Integrity is one of them.

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