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Ex-Enron CEO: Not me
graphic December 22, 2001: 9:26 a.m. ET

Skilling says he had "no idea" about company's financial woes: report
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The former CEO of Enron Corp. had "no idea" of the financial woes that were brewing at the now-bankrupt energy trading company and denied he was responsible for the company's demise, a newspaper reported Saturday.

"We're all trying to figure out what happened," The New York Times quoted former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling as saying in an interview. "This was a tragedy. I had no idea the company was in anything but excellent shape."

Skilling resigned as CEO in August after a decade at the company, during which he helped transform it from a pipeline operator into the biggest energy trading company in the world.

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  We're all trying to figure out what happened. I had no idea the company was in anything but excellent shape.  
     
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  Jeffrey Skilling
Ex-Enron CEO
 
In the interview, he was quoted as saying he was stunned by the company's rapid descent after his departure and by disclosures that his former chief financial officer and close associate had made $30 million from dealings with partnerships related to Enron.

The disclosures raised questions about Enron's financing that eventually led it to restate earnings - wiping $600 million in profits off its books - and also prompted many customers to stop doing business with the Houston-based company. The Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating.

Enron's cross-town rival Dynegy Inc. (DYN: Research, Estimates) agreed to rescue Enron in November but called off the deal later in the month. Enron then quickly collapsed under its debts and filed for bankruptcy earlier this month - the biggest corporate bankruptcy filing in the nation's history.

In addition to the SEC, investigators from the Labor Department are probing what went wrong and hearings are being held in Congress. Enron (ENE: Research, Estimates) stock has lost nearly all its value and now trades below $1 a share.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Skilling was quoted as saying. He has spent two days giving sworn testimony to the SEC and did not exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before investigators, the report said.

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Skilling said he didn't invest in the partnerships in question and disputed comments by some people close to Enron that he had been warned against Enron setting up deals with them, the newspaper said. He was quoted as saying the partnerships were the idea of the former chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow, who was ousted in October.

Shareholders and employees who suffered big losses are suing Enron. The paper said that Skilling sold some of his holdings before Enron's collapse but that he still owns more than 600,000 shares and many options, according to regulatory filings.

Enron spokeswoman, Karen Denne, declined to comment on what Skilling had to say, the newspaper said. It said lawyers for Fastow could not be reached. graphic





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