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Enron scandal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Enron Corporation

Former type
Traded as

Enron logo

Northern Natural Gas


Houston Natural Gas


Prisma Energy International



Omaha, Nebraska, United States

Kenneth Lay
November 2004
1400 Smith Street
Houston, Texas, United States
Key people
Kenneth Lay, Founder, Chairman and
Jeffrey Skilling, former President,
and COO
Andrew Fastow, former CFO

Rebecca Mark-Jusbasche, former

Vice Chairman, Chairman and CEO
of Enron International
Stephen F. Cooper, Interim CEO and
The Enron scandal, revealed in October 2001, eventually led to the bankruptcy of the Enron
Corporation, an American energy company based in Houston, Texas, and the de facto dissolution
of Arthur Andersen, which was one of the five largest audit and accountancy partnerships in the
world. In addition to being the largest bankruptcy reorganization in American history at that
time, Enron was cited as the biggest audit failure.[1]
Enron was formed in 1985 by Kenneth Lay after merging Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth.
Several years later, when Jeffrey Skilling was hired, he developed a staff of executives that, by
the use of accounting loopholes, special purpose entities, and poor financial reporting, were able
to hide billions of dollars in debt from failed deals and projects. Chief Financial Officer Andrew
Fastow and other executives not only misled Enron's board of directors and audit committee on
high-risk accounting practices, but also pressured Andersen to ignore the issues.
Enron shareholders filed a $40 billion lawsuit after the company's stock price, which achieved a
high of US$90.75 per share in mid-2000, plummeted to less than $1 by the end of November
2001.[2] The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began an investigation, and rival
Houston competitor Dynegy offered to purchase the company at a very low price. The deal
failed, and on December 2, 2001, Enron filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United
States Bankruptcy Code. Enron's $63.4 billion in assets made it the largest corporate bankruptcy
in U.S. history until WorldCom's bankruptcy the next year.[3]
Many executives at Enron were indicted for a variety of charges and some were later sentenced
to prison. Enron's auditor, Arthur Andersen, was found guilty in a United States District Court of
illegally destroying documents relevant to the SEC investigation which voided its license to audit
public companies, effectively closing the business. By the time the ruling was overturned at the
U.S. Supreme Court, the company had lost the majority of its customers and had ceased
operating. Employees and shareholders received limited returns in lawsuits, despite losing
billions in pensions and stock prices. As a consequence of the scandal, new regulations and
legislation were enacted to expand the accuracy of financial reporting for public companies.[4]
One piece of legislation, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, increased penalties for destroying, altering, or
fabricating records in federal investigations or for attempting to defraud shareholders.[5] The act
also increased the accountability of auditing firms to remain unbiased and independent of their