Enron: Shaping The Future of Ethics In Business
“Give me the story– please, the story. If I can finally understand the case in simple terms, I can, in turn, tell the same story to the jury and make them understand it as well. I go about my life confused most of the time, but when I get something clear I usually can communicate it. Getting it clear is not the work of huge minds, which often are baffled by themselves, but the labor of ordinary minds that understand simplest of stories… most of all, lawyers must be storytellers. That is what the art of advocacy comes down to — the telling of the true story of one’s case”(McLean 412). This was the opening statement of the 2006 trial of Enron provided by Gerry Spence who was on the defense side fighting for Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay (409). The two businessmen have finally been caught after years of fraudulent actions within one of the largest energy companies, Enron. After years of the investigation by the SEC the trial is now taking place in the year of 2006, which is roughly 4 years after the bankruptcy of Enron (406).
By looking at the Enron scandal and how Kenneth Lay and Jeff Skilling maintained investors while secretly going bankrupt it is apparent that unethical business practices occur frequently in America due to Corporate greed, which is problematic because people have lost so much from investing in unethical corporations, and therefore people need to be more readily informed about their invested companies so that their finances are protected. When the year of 1985 came around the economy stopped and stared at the new incoming energy company founded by the wise and powerful Kenneth Lay. Kenneth Lay born in April of 1942 was forty three at the time of the creation of what would be known as the most interesting business ever to hit the stock market (126). At age 43 Lay had a great deal of previous work history after graduating from the University of Houston in 1970 with a Ph.D. in economics (126). Lays unbelievable amount of knowledge set him up with a prodigious job with Exxon mobile, also known as the “successor” to humble oil and refining. Lays time at Exxon mobile gave him extraordinary amounts of skill as he was soon setup with a high-ranking job of a federal energy regulator (147). Lay later moved on to bigger and better things as he took a job at Florida gas transmission as an executive in the late seventy’s (184). The eighty’s came around and Lay knew that he wanted to be nothing more than a president and CEO of his own energy company. 1985 was the year that Kenneth Lay, from Houston, Texas, founded the Houston Natural Gas Company (205). This name would not last long though as within the same year, the company was bought out by Internorth, a company from Omaha, Nebraska, who renamed Lay’s creation “Enron”. Lay soon became the nations highest paid CEO as he took over for Samuel Segnar only six months after the Company was bought out (254). Lay received $42.4 million in 1999 and was the nations Highest Paid CEO at the time (326). The Enron company was now under the magical and mysterious Kenneth lay who knew exactly what he had to do to produce one of the largest energy companies in the world. One of the first things that was promised by the CEO was that the company would stay in the city of Omaha, Nebraska right where it originated and after only a few years Lay moved the headquarters to his home town of Houston, Texas. This point in Enron’s transformation signified a new foundation of the business solely put together by Lay’s sneaky tactics. Enron was all about working together (210). Their mission statement expressed the need for teamwork to overcome any obstacle that got in the way of running the business efficiently. One of Lay’s businessmen that he added to the team was future president of the corporation Jeff Skilling. Jeff Skilling was guy who wanted to make money as quick as possible and was really cocky when it came to talking about his own talents....
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