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Former Enron Employee Reacts to Guilty Verdict


Joining us now for reaction to the verdict is Rudy Sutherland. He's a former risk manager at Enron, and he was there till the bitter end. He now heads a startup that manufactures construction materials. And Mr. Sutherland, what's your reaction to the verdict?

Mr. RUDY SUTHERLAND (Former Risk Manager at Enron): Well, I think that it's really a huge relief for a lot of folks who needed closure to this whole situation. And you know, just to know that there was some level of accountability at the executive level and it's recognized. I guess, you know, that's the most important thing, that it's recognized by, you know, a jury of the executives peers in this case. And so I think that, again, it's just going to bring closure to a whole lot of folks who suffered dearly because of the Enron debacle.

BRAND: Uh-huh. And what did you find most interesting about the trial, and about this verdict?

Mr. SUTHERLAND: Well, you know, one of the things that was really, I guess, you know, alarming about the trial was the response that Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling gave on a regular basis after each day's court session. There didn't appear to be any remorse. There didn't appear to be, you know, any acceptance of the their being, you know, of, you know, their recognizing their contribution, either direct or indirect, to the demise of the company. And I think that's, you know, that's just amazing.

BRAND: Hmm. And you know, they argued that what they did, obviously, they argued that it was perfectly legal, that these were the rules set about by the SEC that they followed and that any illegalities that were done were, were done by people lower than them. Someone like former CFO Andy Fastow.

Mr. SUTHERLAND: Well, you know, the thing, the argument has always been that you put enough insulation between, you know, the actual activity and the orders that are given, you know, that, you know, that, that's, I guess some sense or blanket of security, but the reality is that, you know, companies are ran from the top down. And although Enron was very entrepreneurial in, it was not that - you didn't get that much autonomy. In other words, I don't buy for a minute that, that particularly Mr. Skilling was not aware of everything that went on where the company was concerned at a molecular level.

This guy was very intimate with the business, and, you know, it was his management style. Now, Mr. Lay, again, you know, it's a function of you put certain people in roles of responsibility, but ultimately you have to carry the weight of what their actions are. You can't use that as an excuse. So I think it sets a good precedent for corporate America going forward. And I think that it's going to make some folks think twice before they make very risky decisions relative to the investments that, you know, that employees put, you know, they put themselves in a position, when you go to work for a company, to follow the leadership. You're banking on these guys to make right decisions relative to your future. And if, you know, it just, I think it just bodes very well to accountability for corporate America and I think it's a win for capitalism overall.

BRAND: Thank you very much. Former Enron Risk Manager Rudy Sutherland.

Mr. SUTHERLAND: Okay. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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