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Archive for Saturday, March 2, 2002

Ex-Enron executive chastises lawmakers

March 2, 2002

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— Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling says he couldn't have overseen everything at the company and accuses lawmakers who have challenged his testimony of "acting as judge and jury" in an election year.

No one should expect in the aftermath of Enron's collapse that a top executive would have known everything or been the one to "close out the cash drawers" every night, Skilling said in a television interview.

Skilling, saying he believed "we made the right decisions" before Enron collapsed into the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history in December, defended himself in an interview being aired Friday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."

He appeared with his attorney, Bruce Hiler, who told King that he does not fear Skilling being indicted on criminal charges in the Justice Department's investigation of Enron.

"I do not think that should be in the cards," Hiler said. "A lot of facts have to come out yet."

Said Skilling: "The United States Congress has decided that I am guilty until proven innocent."

By contrast, he said, Congress has treated as a "heroine" Enron executive Sherron Watkins who testified that Skilling "duped" former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay and the board.

"Sherron's entitled to her opinion. Sherron's not entitled to her own facts," Skilling said.

He said he would wait to see the facts emerge before pointing a finger at anyone, such as former chief financial officer Andrew Fastow, who ran the web of partnerships that was used to hide more than $1 billion in debt and eventually toppled the company.

Angered by lawmakers questioning the veracity of his sworn testimony, Skilling raised the possibility Friday that he will no longer cooperate with the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The lawmakers say Skilling knew more about questionable financial transactions than he told Congress.

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