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Words in the News
 
Friday 20 February 2004
 
Enron update
 
Enron logo Two years after the collapse of Enron, lawyers are still not in a position to bring a case against the former Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling. This report by Lesley Curwen:
 
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Although the Enron scandal has been followed by other bigger frauds at companies such as WorldCom and Parmalat, it is still the most notorious of all, and it was Enron which originally became a by-word for corporate wrong-doing. Because of this, there's been huge frustration among US prosecutors who've found it difficult to assemble a criminal case against Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief operating officer and chief executive, a star businessman who turned Enron from a dull pipeline company into a financial powerhouse and the seventh biggest firm in America.

The investigations have included basic accounting issues, as well as far more complex questions surrounding the legality of shadowy Enron partnerships which hid huge amounts of debt. Some of the case has dealt with subtle questions of the degree to which companies should be allowed to manipulate their earnings figures to present the best possible picture to the world. Despite the problems, the authorities have charged a number of lower and mid-level executives with fraud, and some have pleaded guilty. At last, the prosecutors have now got the co-operation of almost every high-level executive who worked with Mr Skilling, including Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer who pleaded guilty to various criminal charges last month and has agreed to a jail sentence of at least ten years. Their evidence will no doubt play a key part in the case against Jeffrey Skilling.
 
 
Listen Listen to the words
 
fraud(s)
 
an unlawful act of deceitful behaviour for the purpose of making money
 
notorious
 
famous or widely known for something bad
 
by-word
 
the name of the company represents some quality
 
wrong-doing
 
bad behaviour
 
prosecutors
 
lawyers bringing a case against a person or company
 
shadowy
 
here, partnerships which might not be legal
 
to manipulate
 
to control or influence for one's own gain
 
pleaded guilty
 
admit that you are guilty in legal context
 
jail sentence
 
the period of time in prison
 
a key part
 
an important part
 
 
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