The Enron Scandal and Ethical Issues Analysis


Every house and its directors are expected to maximise investor returns while following with regulative criterions, avoiding principal-agent struggles of involvement, and heightening the reputational capital of their houses. However, in patterns, being ethically is non merely about giving big amount of charity ‘s money but acknowledging and moving on possible ethical issues before they become legal jobs are more of import facets to taking attention of. Enron collapsed as the consequence of unethical direction patterns such as the evasion of revenue enhancements and deceitful accounting patterns. The Enron dirt is the most important corporate prostration in the United States since the failure of many nest eggs and loan Bankss during the 1980s. This dirt demonstrates the demand for a close expression at the ethical quality of the civilization of concern by and large and of concern corporations in the United States. Organization need to inculcate moralss and unity throughout their corporate civilizations every bit good as into their definition of success. Unethical and illegal concern patterns at Enron led to the creative activity of Serbanes – Oxley Act of 2002. This study will discourse and happen out illegal and unethical activities, impacts on stakeholders and lessons from the Enron instance.

The Enron Scandal and Ethical Issues

Enron Corporation is an energy trading, natural gas, and electric public-service corporations company located in Houston, Texas that had around 21,000 employees by mid-2001, before it went bankrupt. Its gross in the twelvemonth 2000 was more than $ 100 billion and named as “ America ‘s most advanced companies for six back-to-back old ages by Fortune. Enron was a company that was able to gain by supplying the bringing of gas to public-service corporation companies and concerns at the just value market monetary value. Enron was listed as the 7th largest company in the United States and had the domination in the trading of communications, power, and weather securities ( Corporate Narc, neodymium ) .

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At first sight, Enron looks like an first-class corporate citizen, with all the corporate societal duty ( CSR ) and concern moralss tools in community ( Sims & A ; Brinkmann, 2003 ) . However, the dirt of Enron has been the largest corporate dirt in history, and has become symbolic of institutionalised and well-planned corporate fraud ; the Enron dirt involves both illegal and unethical activities.

Harmonizing to Carroll and Buchholtz ( 2008 ) , the CFO Jeffrey Skilling and the CEO Ken Lay played major functions in the Enron dirt. Both of them committed securities fraud and confederacy to blow up net income. In camouflage debts of Enron, Lay and Skilling used off-the-books partnerships, after that “ they lied to investors and employees about the company ‘s black fiscal state of affairs while selling their ain company ‘s portions ” ( Carroll & A ; Buchholtz, 2008, p. 256 ) . Enron ‘s top degree direction has violated several accounting Torahs, SPE Torahs, and bent the accounting regulations to fulfill their ain desires of net income in the short term but disregarding long term reverberations for investors, shareholders, employees and the concern itself. The close relationships that were formed among top taking executives and the board of managers grew chesty, believing they were unbeatable and doing them to move in an unethical mode. Enron allowed Andrew Fastow, the Chief Financial Officer to command two SPE ‘s ( particular intent entities ) that were wittingly connected to Enron, and gave him an chance to mistreat his power.

Enron besides parked some of its debt on the balance sheet of its SPVs and kept it hidden from analysts and investors. When the extent of its debt load came to visible radiation, Enron ‘s recognition evaluation fell and loaners demanded immediate payment in the amount of 100s of 1000000s of dollars in debt ( Sims & A ; Brinkmann, 2003 ) . It means that Enron ‘s determination shapers saw the shamble of debt instead as a timing issue and non as an ethical one. They maintained that the company was financially stable and that many of their emerging jobs truly were non excessively serious, even though they knew the truth and were doing fiscal determinations to protect their personal additions.

No treatment of the Enron dirt would be complete without a treatment of the engagement of Enron ‘s comptrollers, the house Arthur Andersen. Arthur Andersen was one of many causes of the Enron prostration when they were the struggle of involvement between the two functions played for Enron, as hearer but besides as adviser. Andrew Fastow, the Chief Financial Officer of Enron pushed many trades across where he had a vested interested on both sides of the trade. By making and wittingly take parting in these trades, he put his fiscal greed above the duty to his place for the company. Harmonizing to Paul and Palepu ( 2003 ) in 2000, Arthur Andersen earned $ 25 million in audit fees and $ 27 million in confer withing fees, this sum accounted for approximately 27 % of the audit fees of public clients for Arthur Andersen ‘s Houston office. The hearers ‘ methods were questioned as either being completed entirely to have its one-year fees or for their deficiency of expertness in properly reexamining Enron ‘s gross acknowledgment, particular entities, derived functions, and other accounting patterns. Due to these relationships that Enron had with Arthur Andersen, it was merely excessively easy for both Enron and the accounting house to work together in covering up fiscal losingss and debt. Andersen was besides responsible for some of Enron ‘s internal clerking, with some of Andersen ‘s employees finally go forthing to work for Enron. The consequence of the accounting dirt was that many of the losingss that Enron encountered were non reported in its fiscal statements. In November, 2001, Enron revises fiscal statements for the old five old ages to account for $ 586 million in losingss ( Corporate Narc, neodymium ) .

After a series of dirts affecting irregular accounting processs surrounding on fraud affecting Enron and its accounting house Arthur Andersen, it stood at the brink of undergoing the largest bankruptcy in history by mid-November 2001. As Enron was considered a bluish bit stock, this was an unprecedented and black event in the fiscal universe. Enron ‘s dip occurred after it was revealed that many of its net incomes and gross were the consequence of trades with particular purpose entities ( Corporate Narc, neodymium ) .

Enron ‘s leaders besides ignored, so denied serious jobs with their concern minutess and were more concerned about their personal fiscal wagess than those of the company. When the company ‘s stock monetary value began to drop as the jobs were going public, the company was transitioning from one investing plan to another.

Impacts on Stakeholders

Every concern has a moral duty to function its stakeholders, whether they are concern spouses, clients, shareholders, or employees. Enron ‘s bankruptcy has injured several parties including Bankss, shareholders, former employees, clients, providers, communities, and besides the United States.

Impacts on Employees

The first thing, and most of import thing the Enron dirt had an consequence was the occupation state of affairs. Carroll and Buchholtz ( 2008 ) argued that “ when Enron went insolvents and so the Arthur Andersen accounting house went out of concern in 2002, employees were displaced and significantly affected ” ( p. 47 ) . Enron ‘s fiscal implosion has cost 1000s of employees their occupations, left 1000s of people still employed by the belly-up bargainer and “ left 5,600 employees idle and facing retirements with no nest eggs ” ( Carroll & A ; Buchholtz, 2008, p. 256 ) . Many employees had their full pensions vested in Enron stock, Kenneth Lay advised employees maintain their Enron stock when the house was crashing, and he was selling his ain. While the employees were unable to sell their stock, Lay and other executives were rapidly selling off many of their portions. The lives and nest eggs of 1000s employees were destroyed. They besides were deprived of the freedom to diversify their retirement portfolios ; and they had to stand by impotently while their retirement nest eggs evaporated at the same clip that top directors cashed in on their moneymaking stock options.

Impacts on Investors and Stockholders

As the consequence of Enron dirt, single and institutional investors lost 1000000s of dollars because they were misinformed about the house ‘s fiscal public presentation world through questionable accounting patterns, and all of the stockholders lost the money that they had invested in the corporation after it went belly-up. Stockholders lost about $ 11 billion when Enron ‘s stock monetary value, which hit a high of US $ 90 per portion in mid-2000, plummeted to less than $ 1 by the terminal of November 2001 (, 2010 ) . Investors those who were hurt can ne’er be made wholly whole one time once more after the awful experiences of Enron.

Impacts on the United States and Communities

Political parties, such as the Bush disposal, who accepted parts from Enron, were happening themselves in places where returning the financess to Enron or donating them to a charitable. Enron besides affected the United States in several of import ways. If anything positive can be said about the Enron dirt, it is that the dirt itself heightened consciousness of the importance of unity in Accounting and concern in general, and led to the creative activity of new precautions to do certain that something like this would non go on once more, or at least non to the full extent of the Enron harm.

Enron cynically and wittingly created the bogus California electricity crisis of 2000 and 2001. Between 30 per centum and 50 per centum of California ‘s energy industry was shut down by Enron a great trade of the clip, and up to 76 per centum at one point, as the company drove the monetary value of electricity higher by nine times ( Corporate Narc, neodymium ) .

Impacts on Other Stakeholders

The Enron dirt besides harmed other stakeholders. For illustration, Enron top directors pressured Arthur Andersen to attest maximum-risk ; questionable accounting patterns in portion to retain their consulting concern and, by submiting to this force per unit area, Arthur Andersen won immense contracts in the short tally nevertheless finally lost their professional credibleness and client base. Some investing Bankss such as Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, and Merrill Lynch made over $ 200 million in fees from trades that helped Enron and other energy houses boost hard currency flow and hide debt, and, by neglecting to exert their ain adequate due diligence, they multiplied the injury done to other stakeholders. Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase in peculiar appeared to hold important sums to lose with Enron ‘s autumn.


Thousands of aggrieved employees, investors, and other stakeholders were waiting to happen out what penalty will be meted out to those who covered up Enron ‘s true fiscal place so successfully for so long. Three persons that participated in the assorted frauds that were committed by Enron included the former president and CEO of Enron, Jeffrey Skilling ; former main fiscal officer in charge of LJM, Andrew Fastow ; laminitis, former president, and CEO, Kenneth Lay. At first, in 2002, Enron ‘s former main fiscal officer, Andrew Fastow, and three other current and former Enron executives exercise their Fifth Amendment right non to attest at a congressional hearing. He was charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, and confederacy. It is alleged that Fastow and others devised a strategy to victimize Enron and its stockholders (, 2006 ) . Fastow, his married woman Lea Fastow and nine other former executives faced 31 more charges and 98 counts of fraud and they were besides indicted on a host of fraud, insider trading, and other counts ( Associated Press, 2006 ) . Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty to two counts of confederacy. The supplication called for a 10-year sentence and his assistance in aiming former top Enron executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. Lea Fastow pleaded guilty to registering false revenue enhancement signifiers. Finally, in March 2006, Fastow had already pleaded guilty and faced up to 10 old ages in prison on two counts of confederacy.

Lay and Skilling went on test for their portion in the Enron dirt in January 2006 in Houston. Skilling faced 31 counts runing from fraud to lying to hearers for allegedly lying about Enron ‘s fiscal province. Lay faced seven counts of fraud and confederacy for allegedly perpetuating the strategy. After six yearss of deliberations, on May 25, 2006 a finding of fact was reached in the Houston test of former Enron head Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. Skilling was convicted of 19 of 28 counts of securities fraud and wire fraud and acquitted on the staying nine, including charges of insider trading, doing him the highest superior former executive charged in the prostration of Enron. He was sentenced to 24 old ages and 4 months in prison for his function in one of the biggest corporate dirts in U.S. history (, 2006 ) . Lay was convicted of all six counts against him, including confederacy to perpetrate securities and wire fraud and he faced a entire sentence of up to 45 old ages in prison. However, before condemning was scheduled, Lay died on July 5, 2006 due to a bosom onslaught (, 2010 ) .

Lessons from the Enron Case

In the new economic, the Enron dirt has been being the morality lesson. The instance will learn executives and the American public the most of import moralss lessons. The first lesson it that both persons and organisations or houses should merely gain money by supplying goods or services that have existent value in the new economic. Furthermore, executives who are paid excessively much can believe they are above the regulations and can be tempted to cut ethical corners to retain their wealth and fringe benefits. Every houses need to show that they have eliminated all off-books histories which distort the populace ‘s apprehension of the fiscal wellness of the organisation and they should to plight that they will non suspend the company ‘s codification of behavior, or at least study to the populace when they do. In order for companies to forestall an Enron-like dirt, there needs to be supervising over directors and executives as they exercise their ain concern judgements about what is in the best involvement for an organisation.

Kirk Hanson ( 2002 ) , executive manager of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, explained that the Enron dirt “ demonstrates the demand for important reforms in accounting and corporate administration in the United States, every bit good as for a close expression at the ethical quality of the civilization of concern by and large and of concern corporations in the United States ” . Due to the accounting frauds that occurred in the Enron dirt, several accounting houses should reorganise their employees towards staying loyal to the ethical criterions demanded by the SEC. In order for companies to forestall an Enron-like dirt, there needs to be supervising over directors and executives as they exercise their ain concern judgements about what is in the best involvement for an organisation. On the other manus, when accounting houses have been traveling to break up in both auditing and consulting services for their consulting concerns, the SEC should likely follow extra revelation demands. Government ordinances and regulations need to be updated for the new economic system, non relaxed and eliminated.


Looking at the Enron dirt from the retrospective point of view of history, basically most of the jobs faced by Enron derive from the immoral and unethical actions taken on by the board of managers in their effort to accomplish personal net incomes. The Enron dirt changed the lives of everyone in America and possibly merely as significantly, it forced everyone to look at themselves and to the full recognize the effects of foolhardy greed and the breakage of Torahs on a caprice. Most of persons and organisations had been having proper penalty and lessons for their relevancy.

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The Enron Scandal and Ethical Issues Analysis. (2016, Nov 15). Retrieved from