Federal prosecutors are ready to charge former
CEO Jeff Skilling for his alleged role in the bankrupt company's accounting scandal, according to media reports.
reported Friday that charges against Skilling are now being finalized and he could be indicted as early as next week.
The government's budding case against Skilling comes after the recent indictment of the company's former chief accounting officer, Rick Causey, and a plea bargain agreement with Andrew Fastow, Enron's former financial chief.
Fastow's plea arrangement was widely expected to help the government advance its case against Skilling and against Enron's ex-chairman, Kenneth Lay.Skilling, who served as chief operating officer before his promotion to CEO, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing at the Houston-based energy giant, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection more than two years ago in the wake of massive accounting fraud.
Skilling resigned from the company in 2001 before the scandal erupted.
Causey was charged with conspiracy shortly after Fastow's plea bargain and has also maintained his innocence.
In his plea bargain, Fastow said he was among the Enron executives who hid the company's ballooning debt while inflating its profits. That agreement called for Fastow to plead guilty to two counts of fraud and accept a 10-year prison term.
Fastow's wife, Lea, who was an assistant treasurer at the company, also cut a deal with prosecutors in January.
About two dozen people have been charged in the federal investigation of Enron's demise. Former Treasurer Ben Glisan Jr. began a five-year prison term in September. Michael Kopper, Andrew Fastow's top deputy, pleaded guilty to similar charges in October 2002 and agreed to testify against his former boss and others.