Former Enron CEO Seeks Options to Revive Energy Business Ventures, Meeting with Crypto and Blockchain Specialists
Jeffrey Skilling used to be the CEO of Enron Corp., but it has been a long time since he has been in the energy business. He emerged after over 12 years in federal prison from charges for fraud, conspiracy, and insider trading. However, he is not taking any downtime as he is already been holding meetings with former executives of the now-defunct Enron, along with others. Individuals that are close to the matter say that he is hoping to embark on a journey back into the energy business.
Based on the interest, former head of the Enron energy service – Lou L. Pai seems to be interested in supporting the work of Skilling. Allegedly, Pai has said that he will be investing in this venture and has said that he is already involved in work with Skilling. A person familiar with the plans of Pai has said that he was being friendly by bringing Skilling back into the business community. At this point, Skilling and Pai have chosen not to comment.
So far, there has not been much information provided about what exactly Skilling is planning, though the individuals involved have implied that everything is at the initial stages. Some of the meetings between Skilling and potential investors or collaborators have involved nondisclosure agreements, though some comments have suggested that this project will be a digital platform that is linked with oil and gas prices. Multiple individuals that Skilling has met with having involvement in cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, and software development.
As this reentry is planned, Skilling would be coming in while there has been difficulty in securing backing for oil and gas producers. Last year marked the lowest numbers for bond and equity deals that the market has seen in 11 years.
When Skilling was with Enron, he was a part of the “Gas Bank,” which would purchase gas from producers and sell it on a large scale. He joined the company in 2001, resigning as CEO six months later. It did not take long before Skilling had applied for bankruptcy protection and rumors began to fly about the accounting practices, leading to one of the most momentous collapses of a corporation in the history of the country.
Countless indictments rolled in as the Enron scandal unfolded, along with the collapse of Arthur Anderson, an accounting firm. The energy trading business was completely overturned for years, and it resulted in regulations regarding tighter governance of corporations and reporting requirements. Skilling ultimately was convicted in 2006 after lying to investors regarding the state of Enron’s finances, though he continued to maintain that he was innocent the whole time. He was originally sentenced to 24 years in prison, though an agreement to drop the appeals in the process allowed him to bring down his sentence.
Through his work with Enron, Skilling topped $100 in earnings, though it is not clear how much was actually kept after the $42 million in restitution and $20 million in legal defense fees. Furthermore, in another judgment by the SEC, Skilling has been permanently banned from ever becoming an officer or director at a publicly held company.
Considering all of the histories of Enron and Skilling, there are clearly individuals in the crypto and traditional finance sectors that are more entertained than anything else about this launch. A Twitter user named Bitfinex’ed even joked about the idea of investors getting involved with an executive that served time for fraud charges.