News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2006


Enron convictions part of needed trend

When Enron Corp. fell in 2001, a doubting public thought the outcry for justice would die and maybe some underlings would be the fall guys.

Last week, a shaken Kenneth Lay, the architect of the corporate titan, confessed surprise over the guilty verdicts for himself and Jeffrey Skilling. He had good cause to feel confident in 2001, given the prevailing attitude about big business excesses, but he had to feel less so during his four-month trial after seeing other free-wheeling darlings of Wall Street, including Martha Stewart, fall to jury verdicts.

Democracy is a wonderful thing, even with its excesses. The string of high-profile corporate convictions triggered the Sarbanes-Oxley Act designed to make people like Mr. Lay more accountable.

And he should be held responsible for the creative accounting and hype that wiped out more than $60 billion in market value, almost $2.1 billion in pension plans and 5,600 jobs when the corporation collapsed.

A two-bit bank robber would go to prison for stealing $5,000. So should he and Mr. Skilling for what they did.

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