Even though former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling claims he didn't do the crime, he has been doing the time, six years of it. Now, after a ruling by an appeals panel and an investigation into the Enron Task Force that handled the Enron case, Skilling could wind up a free man. There is still a ways to go, but the fact that Skilling might get out got us to wondering, what would he do? He will be a convicted felon and his criminal record would remain intact. But he does have a serious background in finance. Here are some thoughts.
This is probably the most likely. Skilling claims he is innocent and that the task force investigating Enron overstepped its bounds -- a claim being pursued by the Justice Department. This is the perfect opportunity to lionize himself through a scathing rebuke of his prosecutors. Of course, he could go another direction and write a tell-all about the inner workings of Enron or, better yet, federal prison. Whatever the subject matter, we have no doubt it will be a best-seller.
This is the second most likely option. It's not a stretch to imagine him on Mad Money or CNBC talking about the financial markets. The guy is an expert at making money. Yes, he did it by taking it from other people, but still. The entire financial system is predicated on getting rich and Skilling is an expert at that. We wouldn't be surprised if he became a paid consultant for a financial think tank or 24-hour cable news network.
Skilling is one of the great financial hucksters of our time. Talking people into spending money on questionable schemes is his calling card -- no, literally, it's actually on his business card. Since virtually every financial organization on Wall Street has shown itself to be not remotely above pilfering the coffers of government (and innocent investors), Skilling is a prefect fit.
No one said he didn't make Enron money. He just got caught for doing it illegally. According to The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, about 4 percent of CEOs are psychopaths. We're not saying Skilling is one of those, but he sure seems like he flirts with the definition of it.
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It's the role he was born to play. If anyone can convince an unsuspecting sucker to give him money for something worth nothing, it's Skilling.