by Greg Palast
Update of the original report for Truthout
[October 24, 2006]
Donâ€™t kid yourself. If you think the sentencing of Jeff Skilling, former Enron CFO (criminal financial officer), to twenty-four years in the slammer means that justice has been done, think again.
First, Skilling got away with murder – or at least grand larceny. Like Al Capone convicted of failing to file his taxes, Skilling, though found guilty of stock fraud, is totally off the hook for his BIG crime: taking down California and Texas consumers for billions through fraud on the power markets.
Jeff Skilling, his unmourned co-convict Ken Lay and Enron did not act alone. They connived with half a dozen other power companies and a dozen investment banks to manipulate both the stock market and the electricity market. And though their co-conspirators have now paid $3 billion to settle civil claims, the executives of these other corporations and banks get a walk on criminal charges.
Furthermore, to protect our Presidentâ€™s boardroom buddies from any further discomforts, the Bush Justice Department, just days ago, indicted Milberg Weiss, the law firm that nailed Enronâ€™s finance industry partners-in-crime. The timing of the bust of this, the top corporation-battling law firm, smacks of political prosecution â€” and a signal to Big Business that itâ€™s business as usual.
Skilling has to pay up his ill-gotten gains to Enronâ€™s stockholders, but what about the $9-plus billion owed to electricity consumers? The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Bushâ€™s electricity cops, have slapped Enron and its gang of power pirates on the wrist. Could that have something to do with the fact that Ken Lay, in secret chats with Dick Cheney, selected the Commissionâ€™s chairmen?
Team Bush had to throw the public a bone â€” so they throw us Skilling â€” for the crime, note, not of ripping off the public, but ripping off stockholders, the owner class.
This limited conviction, and the announcement of only one more indictment â€” of the crime-busters at Milberg Weiss â€” is Team Bushâ€™s “all clear!” signal for the sharks to jump back into the power pool.
Read the original article and watch the BBC report here.
Greg Palastâ€™s new book, Armed Madhouse: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Class War includes the Project Censored Award-winning story of George Bush and the Enron chiefs, â€œPower Outage Traced to Dim Bulb in White Houseâ€ Order it today
Palast, an internationally recognized expert on Enron and electricity market manipulation, is co-author of â€œDemocracy and Regulation,â€ the United Nationâ€™s guide to control of the utility industry.
Greg Palast is available for interviews- e-mail zach (at) gregpalast.com