Skilling officially sprung

There he goes.

Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former Enron CEO who spent the past 12 years in prison for his role in masterminding one of most notorious corporate fraud cases in history, was released from federal custody on Thursday, the Bureau of Prisons said.

In August, Skilling was released to a halfway house at an undisclosed location from a minimum security federal prison camp in Alabama.

Enron’s collapse cost investors billions of dollars and wiped out the retirement savings and jobs of thousands of employees. Skilling, 65, was convicted of 12 counts of securities fraud, five counts of making false statements to auditors, one count of insider trading and one count of conspiracy in 2006 for his role in hiding debt and orchestrating a web of financial fraud that ended in the Houston company’s bankruptcy.

He was sentenced to 24 years in prison and fined $45 million, the harshest sentence of any former Enron executive. Six years ago, Skilling’s sentence was reduced to 14 years by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake.

See here for more on Skilling’s release to the halfway house last year. One of the conditions of his release then was that he had to get a job, but I’m not able to find any information about what that might have been. If he eventually winds up on the speaking circuit like Andy Fastow, I won’t be surprised. In the meantime, I don’t know what there is to make of this news. He did his time and now he’s out, and we’re all that much older. I wonder how long it will be before we see his name in the news again.

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11 Responses to Skilling officially sprung

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Given the sheer NUMBER of victims of this guy and his cohorts, he should have NEVER gotten out of jail…..ever. People get more time for knocking over a bunch of liquor stores or stop and robs.

    He now goes back to his comfortable life, dusting off those hidden assets, meanwhile, the older Enron employees who were mislead into putting their whole retirement nest eggs into Enron stock are out in the rain working as crossing guards, or fighting arthritis as Walmart greeters.

    This was NOT justice.

  2. C.L. says:

    As sympathetic I am to the (previously ?) unemployed ENRON workers, contrary to popular belief, no one forced them to tie the entirety of their future retirement package to Enron share price.

    That’d be like tying your package to Solyndra’s stock price.

    (That was for you, Bill.)

  3. becky says:

    I agree with Bill – just the enormity of harm caused to multitudes should come into play somewhere in the whole sentencing thing. Do you know of the reason his sentence was reduced in the first place?

  4. Becky – Looking through my archives, his sentence reduction was the result of an agreement between him and the prosecutors during the appeals process. I didn’t delve into it too deeply so I don’t know the specifics, but that’s the basic outline.

  5. David Fagan says:

    C.L. this habit of blaming the everyday worker and employee for these investments, Is a terrible argument. This argument is based on 2 assumptions 1) that the employees were, in fact, investing in ENRON stock and 2) they had to freedom of choice in the purchase, but also, more importantly, the SALE of Enron stock as they saw fit with their investment strategy. From what I understand, they invested in the Enron retirement 401k style account, but the management of those accounts invested heavily in Enron. This is a problem with 401k, is the ethics of the investment managers. When trusting a management of an account, the ethics is they would balance risk and reward, which didn’t happen. The second issue is one of sale. When the people on the inside realised the company was sinking, I would include John Arnold of the Arnold Foundation, they sold their shares while the employees of the retirement plans were prevented from doing so, even when the price of the stock started sinking. So, your argument would have some validity if, at least, the employees had the freedom to sell their shares as the insiders did, but the employees were not allowed to. How much less money would the insiders have made if the employees were able to sell when they wanted to? Probably a lot less. So, C.S., with these points I would say blaming the employees and workers solely is an invalid argument.

  6. C.L. says:

    David, at some point, you have to assume personal responsibility for your investment choices. I’ve assumed responsibility for mine, and I’m assuming you’ve assumed responsibility for yours. If I’m working for Enron and I’ve chosen to allocate my retirement funds in Enron’s proprietary 401k style account instead of say, Putnam Investments or Waddell and Reed or Charles Schwab or TRPrice, etc., then I’m going to take the bad with the good.

    Question is, were Enron employees required to hold all or part of their retirement funds in Enron’s 401k ?

    Disclaimer: My former wife worked for HNG which ultimately morphed into Enron. She cashed out and retired before the sh** started hitting the fan.

  7. Jules says:

    When the Enron scandal came out, I know at least one major oil co changed how their 401k worked – you would no longer get some sort of bonus for putting it all in company stock. Dunno if Enron had anything like that though.

  8. David Fagan says:

    C.l. I can agree with you when you have a CHOICE between investment options you can hold a level of responsibility, but when that level of choice is not available, it is not valid to hold the same level of responsibility. Your wife, if she wanted to use her choice to cash out, but was not ALLOWED by the management of her portfolio, which was ultimately ENRON, how can she be held to the same responsibility. ESPECIALLY when, art the same time your wife sits and watches her investments dwindle and unable to sell our do anything, insiders are selling their shares. Of course, for an insider to sell large portions of their stock, it takes longer than for an individual, this they had to prevent others to sell their share so the insiders could sell at a higher price, all the while the company is going under. I am glad to hear your wife did not experience such a devastating experience.

  9. Jules says:

    CL I don’t think you get those types of choices while you are working as to your 401k. Company match, deferred taxes etc mean most people will choose the company’s 401k over saving money some other way. You should have some control as to how it is invested. Dunno about Enron specifically, but I think for match and deferred taxes you have to go with the company 401k, which could be Schwab, TRP etc.

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    Look, the employees were getting pressure from the Enron execs to put their retirement entirely in Enron stocks, because the company was a rocket ship and the sky was the limit. That’s on par with Ken Paxton pushing his pump and dump stocks. The corporate culture of Enron lead their employees to place trust in the execs.

    But when the end was in sight, and it started becoming clear to objective observers that Enron was crashing, Enron conveniently had a blackout period, where the rank and file COULDN’T sell their Enron stock. The execs, who had already looted the company, were able to get most of their remaining money out…..not so with the guy who turns valves out on the pipeline.

  11. Bill Daniels says:


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