Enron Trial: Skilling Offers Explanations

The cross examination of former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling continues in a Houston federal court. Houston Public Radio's Ed Mayberry reports. Aired 4/19/06 during the KUHF Morning Business Report.

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Skilling is contesting almost every assertion that prosecutor Sean Berkowitz makes, saying that things aren't as simple as the government contends. Berkowitz slowly and methodically walked through Enron's performance statistics. Skilling offered to explain some documents presented, beyond answering yes or no, but Berkowitz would wrestle control of the questioning and push forward.

Skilling defended internal controls that would assess the company's portfolios, and said the government is unfairly misrepresenting their nature by not looking at the larger picture. He said many of the units were performing extremely well.

The government produced various presentations that suggest intense earnings pressure led to the need to take creative accounting risks, but Skilling said all businesses have the desire to reach targets.Skilling denied knowing about transactions the government said were used to artificially boost earnings, saying he knew of no secret deal with Merrill Lynch to buy back a share of Nigerian electricity barges. Skilling said he was not a fan of doing business in Nigeria because it was too risky. Berkowitz produced a document that he said Skilling would have seen that detailed Merrill Lynch's involvement.

Ed Mayberry, Houston Public Radio News.

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