by MONITOR
KENNETH Lay, the founder of the US energy giant Enron, was found guilty on all six charges of fraud and conspiracy yesterday in Houston, and his co-defendant Jeffrey Skilling guilty of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud. Thus, subject to any appeals that may be made, one of the biggest finanaical scandals in American history has come to an end. The Enron case and the even bigger WorldCom collapse were the symbols of the excesses of the so-called dotcom era. They and other Wall Street scandals have resulted in a tightening of US corporate governance and accounting rules, to the point that business is complaining of excessive regulation and red tape. The outcome is a personal tragedy for Mr Lay who from 1985 onwards transformed Enron from a regional natural gas pipeline company into the world's largest energy trading company and the seventh-biggest corporation in the United States. Despite his leadership in this growth, Mr Lay based his defence in court on the incompetence of others and that events had moved beyond his control. In a dramatic final cross-examination the federal prosecutor, John Hueston, said: “Sir, you have a long list of people to blame for Enron's collapse, and it gets longer as you testify. And your list of people to blame and events to blame did not include yourself, did it, Sir?” Lay could only reply: “I did everything I could humanly do at this time.” Clearly the jury did no think that was enough.