Jeffrey Skilling — the former Enron CEO who served 12 years in prison after a 19 count conviction for his part in the firm’s notorious collapse — is allegedly meeting with crypto industry experts ahead of his new business venture. The claim was made in a report from the Wall Street Journal on March 22.
Skilling was released from federal custody on Feb. 21, having served 12 years out of a full term of 24 years. He had resigned as CEO of energy firm Enron in August 2001, just months ahead of the firm’s bankruptcy filing. Arrested in 2004, alongside Enron founder Ken Lay, Skilling was sentenced in May 2006 on 19 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy, insider trading, and deceiving auditors.
The WSJ reports that Skilling, recently out of prison, is now seeking partners for a new venture — which, like Enron, will be connected with the energy finance sector. While details remain scant, the WSJ’s sources have characterized the project as a digital platform that would connect investors to oil and gas projects.
Two of these anonymous sources have reportedly claimed that Skilling has been meeting with cryptocurrency, blockchain, and software development experts in connection with the project. However, these claims have been refuted by separate — likewise anonymous — sources for a CNBC report on the story, published on March 23.
CNBC, having gleaned similarly sparse details on the nature of the venture, referred to it as an early-stage project for a software program targeted at oil and gas investors. Both the WSJ and CNBC report that while the project is yet to secure financial backing, several early advisers have been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, and at least one former colleague — the erstwhile Enron head of energy services, Lou L. Pai — has pledged to invest in the undertaking.
As the WSJ notes, under the terms of a separate United States Securities and Exchange Commission judgment, Skilling is permanently prohibited from serving as an officer or director of a publicly held company.
Both the WSJ and CNBC report that the idea for the new project was hatched while Skilling was still an inmate at a correctional facility in Alabama, with WSJ noting that he “was already taking meetings on the project while serving six months at a Texas halfway house before he fully regained his freedom,” and CNBC claiming he “apparently worried for the rest of his sentence that someone else would come up with the idea before he got out.”
Several blockchain projects for the energy financing sector precede Skilling’s idea — such as the blockchain-powered platform Vakt for energy commodity trading, which continues to onboard major industry players including BP, Shell and Total.