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Enron Executives Finish Closing Arguments

Lawyers in the trial of former Enron executives Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay finished their closing arguments Wednesday and the jury began deliberations.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    After 16 weeks and 56 witnesses, lawyers in the trial of former Enron executives Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay finished their closing arguments today, and the jury began deliberations.

    Jeffrey Skilling faces 28 charges of fraud, conspiracy and insider trading. Ken Lay faces six charges of fraud and conspiracy.

    Thomas Mulligan of the Los Angeles Times has been covering the trial in Houston and joins us now.

    And welcome to you.

  • THOMAS MULLIGAN, Los Angeles Times:

    Thanks, Jeff.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    As always at the end of the trial, we're offered two conflicting visions or stories. Why don't you start with the defense which went yesterday? What was its key argument?

  • THOMAS MULLIGAN:

    The basic defense argument is, aside from the relatively small-scale thievery of the former chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow, there was no crime at Enron.

    Enron was also healthy in the months before it collapsed and, in fact, just gave way to what defense attorneys referred to as a crisis of confidence brought on by negative newspaper articles and the machinations, they say, of short-sellers who profit by betting against a stock such as Enron's.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    I read that defense attorney Daniel Petrocelli kept harping on this idea of bankruptcy is not a crime, failure is not a crime. So he's saying things go bad, but that doesn't necessarily mean that somebody committed some felony.

  • THOMAS MULLIGAN:

    That's right. The biggest philosophical argument that the defense is trying to bring out here is that, in their opinion, there's a move towards criminalization of what are standard business practices. They believe that the government had an object in mind, the prosecution — or, rather, the conviction of Lay and Skilling, the top people at Enron, and that, in Petrocelli's words, they reverse-engineered their case after picking their targets.

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