Enron boss Jeffrey Skilling set to have sentence reduced

Former Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling talks to the media outside the Bob Casey United States Court House October 23, 2006
Image caption Jeffrey Skilling was jailed for 24 years for his part in the Enron fraud

The former chief executive of Enron could be released from prison nearly a decade earlier than expected.

Jeffrey Skilling presided over Enron when it became embroiled in one of the biggest corporate frauds in US history.

Mr Skilling's 24-year sentence could come down to 14, now that he has agreed to stop appealing against his conviction.

Thousands of workers lost their jobs and retirement savings when Enron collapsed in 2001.

The agreement between Mr Skilling and federal prosecutors would also allow more than $40m seized from him to be distributed to the victims of the Enron fraud.

"The proposed agreement brings certainty and finality to a long painful process," Mr Skilling's lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said in a statement.

"Although the recommended sentence for Jeff would still be more than double any other Enron defendant, all of whom have long been out of prison, Jeff will at least have the chance to get back a meaningful part of his life," he added.

The agreement is subject to court approval and recommends that Mr Skilling be re-sentenced to between 14 and 17-and-a-half years, including time already served. He has been in prison since December 2006.

Corporate collapse

Mr Skilling worked for Enron for 20 years and was chief executive for just six months, leaving the company four months before bankruptcy.

A jury in Houston, Texas convicted him in May 2006 on 19 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors.

The jury also found Mr Skilling's predecessor as chief executive, Kenneth Lay, guilty of fraud and conspiracy. Mr Lay died in July 2006.

Enron's former chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow, testified against both Mr Skilling and Mr Lay and was sentenced to six years in prison.

He was released in December 2011. He declined to comment on Mr Skilling's re-sentencing.

Enron was part of a series of corporate accounting scandals at the turn of the century that led directly to a raft of reforms, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

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