Houston (Feb. 20, 2004) -- Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, who faces a 40-count federal indictment that includes fraud, insider trading and giving false statements to auditors, surrendered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and pleaded not guilty to all counts, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The charges against Skilling come only a month after former Enron finance chief Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and agreed to help prosecutors pursue other cases. Former Enron chief accounting officer Rick Causey, who also pleaded not guilty to six fraud counts last month, faces charges similar to those against Skilling.

Skilling, 50, is the highest-ranking former Enron executive to date to face criminal charges. He is the 28th person to be charged and one of the most anticipated in the Justice Department’s methodical investigation, which passed its two-year mark last month, news reports indicated.

Skilling, who succeeded Kenneth Lay as CEO in February 2001, resigned six months later, just four months before the accounting scandal that engulfed the fallen energy firm erupted. No charges have been brought against Enron founder and former chairman Lay. Both Lay and Skilling, through their lawyers, had maintained their innocence in any wrongdoing related to Enron's failure.

-- WebCPA staff

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