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A chronology of Enron Corp. and criminal cases emerging from its collapse:

Friday, May 26, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:45 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

1985: Houston Natural Gas merges with InterNorth to form Enron. HNG CEO Kenneth Lay becomes CEO of combined company the following year.

1989: Enron begins trading natural gas commodities.

1990: Lay hires Jeffrey Skilling to lead the company’s effort to focus on commodities trading in the deregulated markets. Andrew S. Fastow is one of Skilling’s first hires later that year.

1991: Richard Causey leaves Arthur Andersen LLP to join Enron as assistant controller.

1997: Skilling named president and chief operating officer of Enron.

1998: Fastow named finance chief.

1999: Causey named chief accounting officer. Fastow creates the first of two partnerships, LJM, purported to “buy” poorly performing Enron assets and hedge risky investments, but really helps the company hide debt and inflate profits.

August 2000: Enron shares reach high of $90.

December 2000: Enron announces that Skilling will succeed Kenneth Lay as CEO in February 2001. Lay will remain as chairman. Stock hits 52-week high of $84.87.

2001:

Aug. 14: Skilling resigns; Lay named CEO again.

Aug. 22: Finance executive Sherron Watkins meets privately with Lay to discuss concerns of murky finance and accounting that could ruin the company.

Oct. 16: Enron announces $638 million in third-quarter losses and a $1.2 billion reduction in shareholder equity stemming from writeoffs related to failed broadband and water trading ventures as well as unwinding of so-called Raptors, or fragile entities backed by falling Enron stock created to hedge inflated asset values and keep hundreds of millions of dollars in debt off the company’s books.

Oct. 19: Securities and Exchange Commission launches inquiry into Enron finances.

Oct. 23: Lay professes confidence in Fastow to analysts.

Oct. 24: Fastow ousted.

Nov. 5: Enron treasurer Ben Glisan Jr. and in-house attorney Kristina Mordaunt fired for investing in Fastow-run partnership.

Nov. 8: Enron files documents with SEC revising its financial statements for previous five years to account for $586 million in losses.

Nov. 9: Dynegy Inc. announces an agreement to buy Enron for more than $8 billion in stock.

Nov. 19: Enron restates its third-quarter earnings and discloses a $690 million debt is due Nov. 27.

Nov. 28: Enron stock plunges below $1 as Dynegy Inc. aborts its plan to buy its former rival.

Dec. 2: Enron goes bankrupt, thousands of workers laid off.

2002:

Jan. 9: Justice Department confirms it has begun a criminal investigation of Enron.

Jan. 10: The company’s auditor, Arthur Andersen LLP, says it destroyed tons of Enron documents.

Jan. 23: Lay resigns as chairman and CEO.

Jan. 25: Cliff Baxter, former head of Enron’s trading unit and later vice president before his resignation in May 2001, found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Feb. 4: Lay resigns from the board.

March 14: Arthur Andersen indicted for destroying Enron-related documents to thwart investigators.

June 15: Andersen convicted.

Aug. 21: Former top Fastow aide Michael Kopper pleads guilty to money laundering and conspiracy, the first ex-Enron executive to strike a deal with prosecutors. He identifies a string of partnerships designed to falsely portray Enron as financially healthy while enriching him, Fastow and others.

Oct. 16: Andersen sentenced to probation and fined $500,000; firm was already banned from auditing public companies and had only a few hundred employees left after its conviction.

Oct. 17: Former top Enron trader Timothy Belden pleads guilty to wire fraud for participating in schemes to game California’s power markets during the state’s energy crisis in 2000 and 2001.

Oct. 31: Fastow indicted on 78 charges of conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and other counts.

2003:

April 30: Counts against Fastow increased to 98, while his wife Lea is charged with tax crimes and conspiracy for participating in some of her husband’s deals. Former Enron treasurer Ben Glisan Jr. charged with conspiracy and money laundering for participating in Fastow-controlled deals.

Sept. 10: Glisan pleads guilty to conspiracy and goes straight to prison for five years, becoming the first former Enron executive behind bars. Later begins cooperating with prosecutors.

2004:

Jan. 14: Andrew Fastow pleads guilty to two counts of conspiracy and agrees to serve 10 years in prison after prosecutors no longer need his cooperation.

Jan. 22: Causey pleads innocent to conspiracy and fraud charges for allegedly being “a principal architect” of widespread schemes to mislead investors in the scandal-ridden energy company.

Feb. 19: Skilling added to Causey indictment, pleads innocent to more than 30 counts including conspiracy, fraud and insider trading.

May 6: Lea Fastow pleads guilty to a reduced charge of filing a false tax form, a misdemeanor, and is sentenced to the maximum sentence of one year in prison.

July 7: Sealed indictment against Lay handed up.

July 8: Lay surrenders to FBI. Indictment unsealed, accusing him of participating in a conspiracy to manipulate Enron’s quarterly financial results, making false and misleading public statements about the company’s financial performance and omitting facts necessary to make financial statements accurate and fair. Lay pleads innocent.

July 15: U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez confirms Enron’s reorganization plan in which most creditors will receive about one-fifth of the approximate $63 billion they’re owed in cash and stock.

July 30: Former Enron Broadband CEO Kenneth Rice pleads guilty to securities fraud.

Aug. 5: Former top Enron trader John Forney pleads guilty in San Francisco to manipulating energy prices during California’s power crisis in 2000-2001.

Aug. 31: Former Enron Broadband chief operating officer Kevin Hannon pleads guilty to one count of conspiracy.

Oct. 7: Former Enron assistant treasurer Timothy Despain pleads guilty to conspiracy and agrees to cooperate with prosecutors.

Oct. 19: A federal judge grants Lay a trial separate from Skilling and Causey on charges of bank fraud and lying to banks about using loans to buy Enron stock on margin, but rules the trio will be tried together on other charges.

2005:

April 18: Enron broadband trial begins.

May 31: U.S. Supreme Court overturns former Andersen conviction, ruling unanimously that vague jury instructions allowed jurors to convict without finding criminal intent behind mass document destruction. The government said in November 2005 that prosecutors will not retry the firm.

July 20: Jury in Enron broadband trial acquits three of five defendants on some charges but deadlocks on most of the 164 counts. The five defendants will be retried on fewer counts in three separate trials in May, June and September of 2006.

Dec. 12: A judge approves David Duncan’s withdrawal of his guilty plea.

Dec. 28: Causey pleads guilty to securities fraud and agrees to serve seven years in prison in exchange for cooperating with the government.

2006:

Jan. 30: Lay, Skilling trial begins.

May 25: Lay and Skilling are convicted of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in connection with Enron’s collapse. Lay is convicted in a separate bank fraud case.


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