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Noble haunted by critics invoking Enron’s ghost

Ben Paul
Ben Paul9/10/2018 08:00 AM GMT+08  • 7 min read
Noble haunted by critics invoking Enron’s ghost
SINGAPORE (Sept 10): A response from Iceberg Research to a tweet about Jeff Skilling (pictured, main image) this past week alerted me to the news that the former CEO of Enron Corp had just been released from prison and relocated to a halfway house for the
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SINGAPORE (Sept 10): A response from Iceberg Research to a tweet about Jeff Skilling (pictured, main image) this past week alerted me to the news that the former CEO of Enron Corp had just been released from prison and relocated to a halfway house for the remainder of his jail term. “Chairman position vacant at Noble Group. Fits your skills perfectly,” Iceberg said in its response to the tweet.

It wasn’t the first time that Iceberg had associated Noble with Enron. It began doing so in its earliest reports on the commodity trader back in 2015. For instance, in a report dated March 21 2015, Iceberg said Noble had fabricated the value of its assets, and specifically inflated financial figures that credit rating agencies closely monitor. “Noble, like Enron, intelligently spots the accounting loopholes… and exploits them with the help of a complacent auditor,” the report added.

Enron, which was once one of the largest sellers of natural gas in North America, is said to have adopted aggressive mark-to-market accounting for its long-term supply contracts and used special purpose vehicles to keep debt off its balance sheet. But it all unravelled in 2001. During that tumultuous year, Skilling resigned, chief financial officer Andrew Fastow was ousted, Enron restated its earnings for previous years, plans for the company to be acquired fell through and it filed for bankruptcy.

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