Betting on the future of Lay, Skilling
Futures markets are pessimistic about the former Enron executives' chances in court based on online bidding.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Former Enron executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling might want to rethink their chances of getting off scott-free, according to a Web site where traders can bet on future events.

Traders at Intrade, a futures market based in Dublin, Ireland, are betting that there is a 55 percent chance that Enron chairman Kenneth Lay will be found guilty of at least four of the charges brought against him, while ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling face a 57 percent chance that he will be convicted of at least 16 of the charges he faces.

According to the company's Web site, the contracts for the two former executives of the fallen energy firm remained unchanged Thursday from their closing price in the previous trading session.

Skilling and Lay, who are being tried in federal court in Houston face a combined 37 counts of conspiracy and fraud, but have pleaded not guilty.

Enron's 2001 bankruptcy was the largest in history at the time and cost 4,000 employees their jobs and many of them their life savings, and led to billions of dollars of losses for investors. Enron was once the nation's seventh-largest company.

Both the Skilling and Lay contracts are scheduled to expire on May 31, 2006, after opening on January 31. The price of both contracts climbed just before the trial resumed this week.

Intrade, which allows individuals to bet on such future events as whether Osama Bin Laden will be captured or "neutralized" by March 31, 2006 or whether "Brokeback Mountain" will win the Oscar for Best Picture, has predicted such historical events as the naming Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope and President Bush's victory in the 2004 election.


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