Jeff Skilling, the former CEO of Enron, has three tips for white collar criminals who want to avoid spending time in jail (he’s currently booked for 24 years).In Fortune, a newly released interview with the former CEO tells how he still insists on his innocence and focuses on making three mistakes as the reason he’s currently in jail and looking at much more time behind bars.
Any white collar criminals who want to avoid jail time should listen to Skilling’s three words of advice:
First, he says, plead the fifth.
Skilling “talked too much and educated the prosecution on issues that they would otherwise have had to figure out on their own.” He should have taken his attorney’s advice and pleaded the fifth, he says.
Second, go on a PR offensive (like Goldman). Skilling says he wishes he had maintained relationships with key industry advocates in and outside the media. Skilling’s recommendation: develop a media strategy to influence public opinion and work to change the reputation of himself and his firm.
Third, he says, don’t be sarcastic. The court in 2002 had latched onto a time when Skilling said, “they’re on to us,” apparently sarcastically, to a group of people at Enron. They interpreted the phrase as an admission of guilt.
“Sarcasm is easily misinterpreted and can be a tremendous liability,” he told Fortune two years ago.
Anyway, Raj Rajaratnam, who is set to go on trial in October this year, is actually already doing a pretty good job at number two (he’s got a new twitter account that follows his defence and declares his innocence) and number three (we haven’t heard any sarcasm from Raj).