It's just business...
This searing examination of the Enron accounting scandal reveals the psychology of greed and corporate corruption that facilitated the company's rise to power and also its fall. When Enron went bankrupt in 2001, the principals walked away millionaires - but later faced legal proceedings and jail sentences. Meanwhile, many employees and investors were left with nothing, not even their retirement savings. Shedding light on the new economy of the 1990s when predictions and book-cooking flourished without actual profits, the film shows how it was not Enron alone but a network of bankers, traders, and accountants who turned a blind eye to the company's clearly suspicious numbers.
Unbelievable footage of employees reveals unbridled greed, lust for risk-taking, and guiltless cheating, all while thinking they could never be caught.
A remarkable documentary which packages the events of the scandal into a cohesive story.
The major characters responsible for Enron's downfall could not be interviewed for the movie because they refused to be. But Gibney gives us lots of insights into their leadership style with news footage, corporate audio and video tapes, a comedy skit performed in front of employees, C-Span clips, and a catalog of other visual and recorded material.
Incredibly, even NOW Texan Kenneth Lay, the son of a Baptist preacher and close friend of President George W. Bush (affectionately referring to him as "Kenny Boy"), and Lay's hand-picked CEO, Jeffrey Skilling, deny any wrongdoing. One segment reveals that Skilling's favorite book is "The Selfish Gene." The Darwinian manifesto presents a dog-eat-dog version of human nature. Money is the only thing that counts for Skilling. His ruthlessness coming from such a philosophy is demonstrated throughout his predatory career. Skilling's "mark-to-market" accounting tricks worked long enough to give him the hubris to believe that anything was possible for Enron because they were "the smartest guys in the room."
The documentary reinacts the suicide of Enron executive Cliff Baxter; exposes the magic tricks of CFO Andy Fastow, who had made millions for the company through shell companies that covered up Enron's staggering debt. One of the deceptively quiet raiders, Lou Pai, a right-hand man for Skilling, was a mysterious figure with a penchant for strippers -- who cashed in his stock options and ran off with hundreds of millions of Enron's dollars.
Whistleblower Sherron Watkins' interviews illumioates the inner workings of Enron's corporate culture. Indeed, the callousness and heartlessness of these go-getters are revealed throughout the documentary. Yet the most depressing part is that the Enron scandal could only have happened by so many accountants, lawyers, Wall Street traders, investment bank analysts, and government regulators looking the other way for years. They enabled Enron's corporate corruption to grow. They were too compromised to speak the truth in the face of power. As a result, millions of ordinary investors were royally screwed, and thousands of Enron employees lost their life savings.
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