Jeffrey Skilling Biography

Business Leader(1953–)
Jeffrey Skilling was the CEO of the energy company Enron who was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud and insider trading.

Synopsis

Jeffrey Skilling, born on November 25, 1953, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, earned his MBA from Harvard before working with the firm McKinsey. He joined the staff of the energy company Enron in 1990 and in a few years would become chief operating officer and then CEO, working with Kenneth Lay. Both Skilling and Lay were found guilty of massive fraud in relation to the 2001 collapse of the company.

Early Life

Business executive Jeffrey Keith Skilling was born on November 25, 1953, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The second of four children, Jeffrey Skilling received his B.S. in applied science from Southern Methodist University in 1975 and his M.B.A. from Harvard in 1979. Upon graduation, he worked for McKinsey & Company in their energy and chemical consulting practices.

CEO of Enron

In 1990, Skilling was hired away from McKinsey by Kenneth Lay to work at Enron Corporation. Skilling was named chairman and chief executive officer of Enron Finance Corporation and became the chairman of Enron Gas Services Company in 1991. In 1997, he was promoted to president and chief operating officer. In that capacity, Skilling pushed an aggressive investment strategy, helping make Enron the biggest wholesaler of gas and electricity, with $27 billion traded in a quarter. He was named CEO of Enron, replacing Lay, in 2001.

Bankruptcy and Felony Charges

Slowly but surely, Enron built a house of cards, recording anticipated future profits as actual gains in order to inflate its stock price. In August 2001, amidst the California energy crises, Skilling unexpectedly resigned and sold almost $60 million in Enron shares. The company declared bankruptcy in December 2001.

In 2006, Skilling was convicted of multiple federal felony charges, including insider trading, securities fraud, and making false statements to auditors. At the time of its collapse in December 2001, Enron's bankruptcy was the largest in U.S. history, costing investors billions and 20,000 employees their jobs and in many cases their life savings.

Personal Life

Jeffrey Skilling was fined $45 million and was currently serving a 24-year, 4-month prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, Minnesota. He was then moved to a prison facility in Colorado. In 2013, a federal judge reduced Skilling’s sentence by a decade. As part of the deal, Skilling dropped his remaining appeals and turned over $40 million in restitution which had been held up while Skilling pursued his appeals. In 2014, Skilling was moved to a minimum-security prison in Alabama. His attorney, Daniel Petrocell said between the sentence reduction and time off for good behavior, Skilling could be released by 2017.

Skilling has a daughter and two sons from his first marriage, which ended in divorce in 1997. He married Rebecca Carter, a former Enron executive, in March 2002.

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