Wednesday, September 27, 2006 at 10:40 AM
Given the litany of corporate scandals that have plagued America in recent years, it’s understandable that details about the Enron and WorldCom scandals might already be filed away in that irretrievable lock-box in your brains labeled “information overload.”
But here’s an excerpt from this previous article I wrote on Enron to remind you of why Fastow’s day of reckoning is noteworthy:
Indeed, notwithstanding subsequent scandals, none of them has had a more devastating impact on the U.S. market, which included $60 billion in shareholder losses. Unfortunately, the impact Enron’s collapse had on the market was surpassed only by the impact it had on the lives of its employees, which included eradicating almost $2.1 billion in pension plans overnight and rendering 5,600 people unemployed.
Of course, upon learning that he was sentenced to only 6 years, it’s also understandable that you might be outraged. But trust me when I assure you that Fastow’s sentence is entirely justified. Because what most reports on his “shocking” sentence fail to mention is that, in addition to serving as the star witness for the prosecution of Enron honchos Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, Fastow also gave prosecutors a 175-page blueprint detailing every Enron scheme he ever concocted and naming all of the high-profile co-conspirators who helped him execute them.
Therefore, as indispensable as his testimony was in securing guilty verdicts against Lay and Skilling, it will prove even more so when prosecutors bring charges against many other corporate crooks; especially the executives Fastow fingers at big banks like Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Credit Suisse. Indeed, ironically, Fastow may end up doing more of his time in court than in jail….
But his sentence is also justified because – as repentant criminals go – Fastow even convinced prosecutors beyond reasonable doubt that he is genuinely repentant. In fact, here’s how he accepted his sentence yesterday:
I will serve my sentence as part of my repentance that I’ve already begun….I wish I could undo what I did at Enron but I can’t….
I am ashamed to the core. I am sorry for what I have done to other people and to my family and my community. I destroyed my life.
Meanwhile, Ebbers (65) reported to federal prison yesterday behind the wheel of a luxury Mercedes Benz (most likely one of his ill-gotten gains). By constrast, however, he was still insisting that he had done nothing wrong. And, such is the nature of his conceit and utter lack of remorse that Ebbers seems determined to oblige his family and friends to waste their money (especially if they benefited from his corporate crimes) on his futile appeals.
But, since his 25-year jail sentence is, in fact, a life sentence, the prospect of filing appeals may provide Ebbers his only hope for living the rest of his natural life behind bars. Nonetheless, if not for the 20,000 employees who lost their jobs or the shareholders who lost over $180 billion as a result of his WorldCom misdeeds, let’s hope that Ebbers spends a little time seeking redemption for his impudent soul….