No one ever accused former Enron executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling of shying away from cutting-edge strategies. And now that their lives are on the line in the biggest corporate fraud trial in U.S. history, they are holding true to form. In a unique twist on the traditional see-no-evil defense, which failed so miserably for former WorldCom Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ebbers, Lay and Skilling are promising to prove that their “crimes” were essentially cooked up by zealous press and prosecutors.
While conventional wisdom has defendants playing their defense strategy close to the vest, both Skilling and Lay have taken their case directly to the public in advance of trial — either talking through their lawyers or, in the case of Lay, speaking out himself — and spelled out what is basically an all-or-nothing gambit as they try to convince jurors that Enron was fundamentally a sound operation with only a few bad actors.
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