Monday, January 30, 2006

The Curtain Opens on the Enron Trial

It's the big day. The big Enron trial gets underway in Houston. Despite the very well documented shenanigans of former CEOs Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, the outcome seems anything but assured. The crimes at the heart of Enron's rise and and collapse are so brazen, arcane and varied that no single trial could possibly make sense of the entire mess.
Even though Lay and Skilling are being tried together, they face different charges. The dynamic between their defense strategies will be fascinating. Both have claimed that Enron was a great company in solid shape when they left. Both can't be right.
As much as they are hoping for vindication, the trial is not about the legacy of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. History's verdict is already in draft form, and it isn't kind. For these two, it's more a matter of nuance than culpability: How much of their conduct was deliberate fraud and how much was willful self-delusion?


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