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Skilling's release evokes memories of Enron's rise



Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who was released from prison to end his sentence, recalled the intoxicating days almost two decades ago when Enron was the city's most admired company. At a time when energy was being deregulated, the company, once the # 7 Fortune 500, benefited – List reached, at times, risky bets on gas and electricity trading and energy investment in developing countries. The company backed the urge to build a downtown baseball park for the Houston Astros and acquired the naming rights to Enron Field.

Enron's difficulty in attracting Houston to the best and brightest led the city leaders to build more parks known as the Enron Effect, as other companies increased pay to try to keep up. Stock options made many Enron secretaries millionaires.

Many Houstonians bought the myth that Enron was touched by Midas himself, and many could not believe December 2001

, when 4,000 people lost their job as a last chance, the company has fallen from bankruptcy.

"Enron went from a poster child of success and ambition to a four-letter word within a year and a half," said Dan Cogdell, a Houston defense attorney who stood low-Enron Executive, who was acquitted of the conspiracy, Enron To cheat shareholders. "Now everyone who communicates with Enron is Satan's henchman."

The blemish of Enron has made Houston a well-known footnote in the history of corporate scandals. Enron's bankruptcy was the biggest corporate bid at the time – it was overshadowed the following year by WorldCom, a telecommunications company also involved in accounting fraud – and several Enron executives went to jail for hiding debt and overvaluing revenue had. These included Skilling, who was sentenced to 24 years in prison and fined $ 45 million – the hardest punishment of a former Enron executive. In 2013, US District Judge Sim Lake reduced Skilling's sentence by 10 years

Former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay was also found guilty of financial fraud, but died of a heart attack before being convicted. [19659004] Skilling to be released in February. Until recently, he lived in a low-risk federal prison camp in Alabama, but was transferred to a secret house, a typical step to help inmates return to normal life. The Federal Criminal Police Office will not say where skilling lives. Skillings lawyer Daniel Petrocelli declined to comment.

Robert Bradley Jr. remembers the good days. He worked for Enron for 16 years, including the last six as Lays speechwriter. He was well paid – he does not want to say how good – but like thousands of his co-workers, he found himself in the street in December 2001 with his belongings. By that time, the value of Enron's stock had fallen to less than $ 1, from a high of $ 90.75 to just over 18 months ago.

Looking back, there were worrying signs of imploding years before, Bradley, author of a new book, said, " Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years."

"We would be the MCI of electricity," Bradley said, recalling an unfortunate attempt to mimic the telecom giants who took advantage of regulatory changes to set up a telephone network to compete with AT & T's one-time monopoly , Another red flag was the company's push into the electricity business, which recorded the sale of power to sports stadiums and the record of all profits in the quarter in which the business was booked, rather than the profits being generated over time.

Enron also entered the broadband business, buying and selling space in fiber optic networks, an undertaking predicted by Enron executives would bring in billions. It turned out that executives offered exaggerated values ​​to the trades in order to increase profits.

One of Bradley's employees, a new employee, drew attention to the suspicious financial practices, Bradley recalled. But Bradley could not believe it. Bradley was not able to hear other longtime employees

"Since we all owned a lot of Enron stock," said Bradley, "we did not want to hear it."

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