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Prosecutors paint picture of corporate 'time bomb' as Enron trial commences

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ENRON was a "ticking time bomb" in its final months as top executives lied to the public about the billions of dollars in losses it faced, prosecutors said yesterday at the start of the trial of former chief executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

But Skilling's lawyer, speaking to jurors as the trial began in a case that could last four months, said his client built Enron into a world-class corporation, never broke the law or stole a single nickel and would testify in his own defence.

"I'm committing to you right now that this man will take the witness stand," Skilling's lead defence attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, said during his opening statement in a federal courtroom in Houston just blocks from the gleaming towers where the two men once reigned over Enron.

"You could not keep him off that witness stand," Mr Petrocelli said. "He's going to tell you in his own words whether he did any of those things. He's going to tell you how much he loved that company."

Prosecutors accuse Lay and Skilling of hiding Enron's growing mountain of debt in off-the-books partnerships and lying to analysts and investors as the company hurtled toward bankruptcy in December 2001 in a scandal that rocked the financial world.

"To the outside world, Enron appeared to be a picture of corporate success," prosecutor John Hueston told the jury in his opening statement. "Inside the doors of Enron, things were terribly wrong."

The Enron name became synonymous with corporate greed and a wave of corporate scandals that went on to snare HealthSouth, WorldCom, Global Crossing and Adelphia and led to the passage of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act that toughened financial reporting and auditing requirements for publicly owned companies.

Lay, 63, who was chief executive and chairman for 15 years, and Skilling, 52, who also served as CEO, are charged with more than three dozen counts of conspiracy and fraud.

 

Prosecutors paint picture of corporate 'time bomb' as Enron trial commences

Enron Logo

ENRON was a "ticking time bomb" in its final months as top executives lied to the public about the billions of dollars in losses it faced, prosecutors said yesterday at the start of the trial of former chief executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

But Skilling's lawyer, speaking to jurors as the trial began in a case that could last four months, said his client built Enron into a world-class corporation, never broke the law or stole a single nickel and would testify in his own defence.

"I'm committing to you right now that this man will take the witness stand," Skilling's lead defence attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, said during his opening statement in a federal courtroom in Houston just blocks from the gleaming towers where the two men once reigned over Enron.

"You could not keep him off that witness stand," Mr Petrocelli said. "He's going to tell you in his own words whether he did any of those things. He's going to tell you how much he loved that company."

Prosecutors accuse Lay and Skilling of hiding Enron's growing mountain of debt in off-the-books partnerships and lying to analysts and investors as the company hurtled toward bankruptcy in December 2001 in a scandal that rocked the financial world.

"To the outside world, Enron appeared to be a picture of corporate success," prosecutor John Hueston told the jury in his opening statement. "Inside the doors of Enron, things were terribly wrong."

The Enron name became synonymous with corporate greed and a wave of corporate scandals that went on to snare HealthSouth, WorldCom, Global Crossing and Adelphia and led to the passage of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act that toughened financial reporting and auditing requirements for publicly owned companies.

Lay, 63, who was chief executive and chairman for 15 years, and Skilling, 52, who also served as CEO, are charged with more than three dozen counts of conspiracy and fraud.

 

Prosecutors paint picture of corporate 'time bomb' as Enron trial commences

Enron Logo

ENRON was a "ticking time bomb" in its final months as top executives lied to the public about the billions of dollars in losses it faced, prosecutors said yesterday at the start of the trial of former chief executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

But Skilling's lawyer, speaking to jurors as the trial began in a case that could last four months, said his client built Enron into a world-class corporation, never broke the law or stole a single nickel and would testify in his own defence.

"I'm committing to you right now that this man will take the witness stand," Skilling's lead defence attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, said during his opening statement in a federal courtroom in Houston just blocks from the gleaming towers where the two men once reigned over Enron.

"You could not keep him off that witness stand," Mr Petrocelli said. "He's going to tell you in his own words whether he did any of those things. He's going to tell you how much he loved that company."

Prosecutors accuse Lay and Skilling of hiding Enron's growing mountain of debt in off-the-books partnerships and lying to analysts and investors as the company hurtled toward bankruptcy in December 2001 in a scandal that rocked the financial world.

"To the outside world, Enron appeared to be a picture of corporate success," prosecutor John Hueston told the jury in his opening statement. "Inside the doors of Enron, things were terribly wrong."

The Enron name became synonymous with corporate greed and a wave of corporate scandals that went on to snare HealthSouth, WorldCom, Global Crossing and Adelphia and led to the passage of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act that toughened financial reporting and auditing requirements for publicly owned companies.

Lay, 63, who was chief executive and chairman for 15 years, and Skilling, 52, who also served as CEO, are charged with more than three dozen counts of conspiracy and fraud.

 

Prosecutors paint picture of corporate 'time bomb' as Enron trial commences

Enron Logo

ENRON was a "ticking time bomb" in its final months as top executives lied to the public about the billions of dollars in losses it faced, prosecutors said yesterday at the start of the trial of former chief executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

But Skilling's lawyer, speaking to jurors as the trial began in a case that could last four months, said his client built Enron into a world-class corporation, never broke the law or stole a single nickel and would testify in his own defence.

"I'm committing to you right now that this man will take the witness stand," Skilling's lead defence attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, said during his opening statement in a federal courtroom in Houston just blocks from the gleaming towers where the two men once reigned over Enron.

"You could not keep him off that witness stand," Mr Petrocelli said. "He's going to tell you in his own words whether he did any of those things. He's going to tell you how much he loved that company."

Prosecutors accuse Lay and Skilling of hiding Enron's growing mountain of debt in off-the-books partnerships and lying to analysts and investors as the company hurtled toward bankruptcy in December 2001 in a scandal that rocked the financial world.

"To the outside world, Enron appeared to be a picture of corporate success," prosecutor John Hueston told the jury in his opening statement. "Inside the doors of Enron, things were terribly wrong."

The Enron name became synonymous with corporate greed and a wave of corporate scandals that went on to snare HealthSouth, WorldCom, Global Crossing and Adelphia and led to the passage of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act that toughened financial reporting and auditing requirements for publicly owned companies.

Lay, 63, who was chief executive and chairman for 15 years, and Skilling, 52, who also served as CEO, are charged with more than three dozen counts of conspiracy and fraud.