More than four years after Enron’s sudden collapse into bankruptcy, and more than three months into the trial of its top two executives on charges of conspiracy and fraud, the day of judgment for former CEOs Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling is about to arrive.
Closing arguments in the case begin Monday, and jurors are expected to start deliberations in one of the biggest corporate fraud cases in history Wednesday.
Both sides rested their cases this week. Since then, prosecutors and defense lawyers have been foraging through the mountains of evidence they have dumped on the jury since January in an attempt to construct a narrative of the facts that will ultimately win over the panel of eight women and four men.
It’s impossible to predict with any certainty the outcome of the trial. But after a total of 55 witnesses, including the defendants, paraded to the stand over 53 days, it is possible to reach some conclusions. The most notable:
The government presented a solid case. This is no small feat in a trial that could have gotten bogged down in complex accounting details, and where there are no “smoking gun” documents that tie Lay or Skilling directly to fraudulent activity.
Both men have been vilified in the court of public opinion, but that matters little in a court of law, where prosecutors must establish beyond reasonable doubt that the two defendants conspired to hide Enron’s true financial condition from the investing public.