Jeffrey Keith Skilling (born November 25, 1953) is a former CEO of Enron Corporation. Skilling, who headed the company from February to August 2001, surrendered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on February 19, 2004 in connection to the fraud charges against Enron and Skilling's predecessor/successor in the CEO position, Kenneth Lay.
Skilling was indicted on 35 counts of fraud, insider trading, and other crimes related to the collapse of Enron. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted of all of them, he faces up to 325 years in prison and at least $80 million in fines. The main reason for his arrest was his probable knowledge of the fraudulent transactions within Enron. About a month after he quit Enron, Skilling sold almost $60 million of his shares in Enron (in blocks of 10,000 to 500,000), leading to the prosecutors' allegation that he sold those shares with inside information of Enron's impending bankruptcy. Along with Richard Causey (former chief accounting officer) and Kenneth Lay, Skilling is scheduled to be tried in January 2006 in federal court in Houston, Texas.
Skilling, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received his B.S. in applied science at the Southern Methodist University, and his M.B.A. at Harvard Business School. He was a consultant at McKinsey & Company before moving to Enron (around 1987), helping the company create a forward market in natural gas.
He became the Chief Operating Officer in 1996, generally considered the 2nd highest position behind Ken Lay. When the latter (in February 2001) gave up his position of CEO, he designated Skilling as his replacement. Skilling began to behave strangely during this time and in April of 2001 verbally attacked ("Well, thank you very much, we appreciate that...asshole") a respected Wall Street analyst during a recorded conference call. Skilling unexpectedly resigned on August 14 of that year, citing personal considerations, and he soon sold all of his shares in the corporation. Replacing him in the interim is Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay, who previously served as CEO for 15 years. When brought in front of congressional committees, he stated that he had "no knowledge" of the complicated chain of scandal that would eventually result in Enron's bankruptcy.
As of January 2006, some 30 other people have been criminally charged in connection with Enron, including Andrew Fastow (who pled guilty in his role as the chief financial officer), Ben Glisan (the former treasurer who was the first official to be sent to prison), and Kenneth Lay (only in title, though). Fastow (who reported directly to Skilling, along with Causey), after pleading guilty, has been cooperating with the government to make a case against other officials. He stated that Enron's top officials approved his work that eventually led to Enron's downfall.
Skilling has chosen a 52-year-old civil litigator Daniel Petrocelli as his attorney who represented Ron Goldman's father against O.J.Simpson in civil suit. Skilling has spent about an unprecedented sum of money, $40 million, for the preparation for the trial which begins Jan 30, 2006. Unlike other corporation wrongdoing case such as WorldCom, his defense team is to make an audacious argument: Everything their company did was legal.
Skilling is the younger brother of Tom Skilling, a popular meteorologist in Chicago, Illinois.
Skilling had a breakdown on the streets of New York City in April 2004. After an evening of excessive drinking he began to harass people on the street and began to accuse total strangers of being part of the FBI. Police responding to the 911 calls found him uncooperative and concluded that he was an "emotionally disturbed person" in need of emergency assistance. << Less Bio