In the 14 years since Enron's collapse, the company's name has become shorthand for corporate fraud.
When the Houston, Texas-based energy trader sought bankruptcy protection on Dec. 2, 2001, its assets of $65.5 billion made it the largest company in U.S. history to do so, according to Fortune magazine.
It was eclipsed less than a year later by WorldCom ($103.9 billion) and dwarfed during the financial crisis by the bankruptcies of Washington Mutual ($327.9 billion) and Lehman Brothers ($691 billion), according to Fortune's ranking.
Still, the fallout from Enron's demise was outsized and long-lasting, giving it an afterlife in U.S. courtrooms from Texas to Washington, D.C., in literature and even on the Broadway and London stages.
For investors, the impact was particularly dramatic: Enron stock slid from a 2000 high of $90.75 to 12 cents a share when the company filed for bankruptcy. The savings of many employees were wiped out, while high-ranking executives were imprisoned after regulatory probes found that the company had hidden debt and write-offs, creating the appearance of stable growth and a healthy cash flow that vastly inflated its stock price.
Litigation in the case stretched out for more than a dozen years and included one-time CEO Jeff Skilling's appeal of his criminal conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But there were some benefits for investors, too.
Enron's collapse, combined with the subsequent bankruptcy of WorldCom, prompted Congress to pass significant new protections through the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which then-President George W. Bush hailed as "the most far-reaching reform of American business practices since the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt."
Roosevelt, the 32nd president, signed into law the Securities Act of 1933 following the stock market crash of 1929 that helped tip the country into the Great Depression. One of the industry's regulatory foundations, the law required the registration of most securities with the government so that investors would have access to relevant financial information, and it outlawed deceit and fraud in securities sales.