Former Enron chief could have sentence reduced

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Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron, could be released from prison nearly a decade earlier than expected

Skilling’s 24-year sentence could come down to 14 years, because he has agreed not to appeal against his conviction.

The agreement between Skilling and US prosecutors could also mean more than $40m would be seized from him and distributed to the victims of the Enron. Skilling has already been in prison since December 2006. He was convicted on 19 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors.

The energy and commodities firm, filed for bankruptcy in 2001 after it hid losses in subsidiaries with the aid of accountants from Arthur Andersen who were found to have overstated financial reports, cash flows and earnings. Before its bankruptcy, Enron employed approximately 20,000 staff with claimed revenues of nearly $101bn. The scandal led to jail terms for several other senior executives and Arthur Andersen was dissolved.

Skilling's lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said in a statement yesterday that a reduced sentence would give the 59-year-old former CEO "at least the chance to get back a meaningful part of his life.”

He is the only person convicted in the Enron case who is still in a federal prison.

“Today’s agreement will put an end to the legal battles surrounding this case," Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement. "Mr Skilling will no longer be permitted to challenge his conviction for one of the most notorious frauds in American history, and victims of his crime will finally receive the more than $40m in restitution they are owed."

The reduced sentence for Skilling is subject to approval from the court.

Helen Roxburgh

 

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