From the pipeline sector, Enron began moving into new fields. In 1999, the company launched its broadband services unit and Enron Online, the company's website for trading commodities, which soon became the largest business site in the world. About 90 per cent of its income eventually came from trades over Enron Online.
Growth for Enron was rapid.In 2000, the company's annual revenue reached$100 billion US. Itranked as the seventh-largest company on the Fortune 500 and the sixth-largest energy company in the world. The company's stock price peaked at $90 US.
However, cracks began to appear in 2001. In August of that year, Jeffrey Skilling, a driving force in Enron's revamp and the company's CEO of six months, announced his departure, and Lay resumed the post of CEO. In October 2001, Enron reported a loss of $618 million— its first quarterly loss in four years.
Chief financial officer Andrew Fastow was replaced, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission launched an investigation into investment partnerships led by Fastow. That investigation would later show that a complex web of partnerships was designed to hide Enron's debt. By late November, the company's stock was down to less than $1 US. Investors had lost billions of dollars.
On Dec. 2, 2001, Enron filed for bankruptcy protection in the biggest case of bankruptcy in the United States up to that point. (WorldCom's collapse would later stealthat dubious honour.) Roughly 5,600 Enron employees subsequently lost their jobs.
The next month, the U.S. Justice Department opened its investigation of the company's dealings, and Ken Lay quit as chairman and CEO.
In January 2004, Fastow agreed to a plea bargain and a...