Former Enron chairman and CEO Ken Lay died early this morning in Colorado, reportedly of a heart attack. He was 64 at the time of his death.
I have a day’s worth of meetings that prevent me from collecting and conveying my thoughts immediately on Mr. Lay’s death, but I wanted to pass along a couple of recent posts (here and here) about Mr. Lay and the weakness of the criminal case against him, one of which includes this excerpt about the man that Mr. Lay was:
Lay is clearly a proud man who desperately wants to tell his side of the story, and it is quite a story. Born and raised in a family with little money, Lay worked his way through college and graduate school, landed his first job with Houston-based Humble Oil (the predecessor to ExxonMobil), and then served his country admirably as a Naval officer and Deputy Undersecretary of Interior for Energy for six years during the Vietnam War. After his governmental service, Lay rose quickly through the executive ranks of a couple of gas pipeline companies before assuming the chairman and CEO position of the company that eventually became Enron in 1985. From that perch, Lay accumulated a personal net worth of about $350 million as of 2000 as he oversaw the growth of Enron into one of the largest publicly-owned companies in the U.S., and then saw that net worth evaporate over the past four-plus years since Enron’s collapse into bankruptcy.
But as difficult as that fall must have been, Lay does not appear to be the type of man who is bothered all that much by the loss of wealth, and certainly not nearly as much as he is aggravated by the Task Force and mediaís ravaging of his reputation over the past five years. According to media reports, Lay and [defense counsel Mac] Secrest struggled somewhat during the early stages of Layís direct examination, and my sense is that their struggles were attributable largely to Layís frustration with not being able to explain to the jurors directly ó without the limiting framework of a trial ó the utter contradiction between his life story and the nature of the criminal charges against him.