Jeff Skilling is innocent

SkillingWhat do Enron and Bear Stearns have in common? If you’re a Bear Stearns exec, you’d better hope the answer is “not much.” At least you won’t have to litigate in Houston. New York’s a bigger, better melting pot when it comes to judges and juries. Prosecutors and governors? Don’t change the subject!

Today, a colleague wrote: “Do you think Skilling is innocent including of the insider trading charge?” Here’s my relatively off-the-cuff answer, understanding that a few months ago I did a presentation on the subject of “honest services fraud,” the legal theory on which Skilling was presumably sent to jail. For some accounting professionals and jilted investors — who want to believe that there’s only one true “net income” for any company in a given year and that someone must be at fault any time a stock “goes south” — this won’t go down easy. I feel confident, however, that fairness will eventually trump emotion. Continue reading