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Supreme Court hears former Enron CEO's appeal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday from an attorney for a former Enron chief executive seeking to overturn his 24-year conviction on securities fraud and other charges.

Jeffrey Skilling was convicted of 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy and insider trading in the collapse of the Texas-based energy services company. He had been a longtime executive at what became the world's largest wholesaler of gas and electricity.

Skilling resigned under pressure in 2001 amid the company's financial crisis.

Thousands of investors and company employees lost their savings and jobs in a case that became a poster child for corporate corruption cases in the past decade.

Skilling and Enron's top executive, Kenneth Lay, were accused of spearheading a campaign to mislead investors and shareholders with an aggressive investment strategy aimed at suppressing the company's shaky financial footing.

Both men were convicted in May 2006. Skilling was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison and fined $45 million. Lay died in July 2006 before sentencing. A federal appeals court upheld Skilling's conviction.

In the appeal, attorney Daniel Petrocelli argues that all convictions should be overturned because his client was improperly convicted of withholding his "honest services" from Enron's shareholders, a violation of federal law dealing with fiduciary responsibilities.

Petrocelli has said the government never proved Skilling's conduct was designed to achieve "private gain," as the law required, as opposed to advancing the company's interests. He also said the "honest services" requirement is too vague.

"The government did not contend, and the record did not suggest in any way, that Skilling intended to put his own interests ahead of Enron's," the appeal said.

Oral arguments begin at 1 p.m. ET. To top of page

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