When is a crime not a crime?
Enron Corp.’s 2001 collapse revealed the extent of its manipulation of spot gas prices. Twelve years later, European Union regulators may discover energy traders never learned the lessons of the scandal.
BP Plc (BP/), Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and Platts were visited by EU inspectors last week over allegations they “colluded in reporting distorted prices” to manipulate the published prices of oil and biofuel products, the European Commission in Brussels said after the raids.
While ENRON was a scandal due to manipulation it was the accounting — which was fictitious — that brought the company down.
Of course when you’ll lie and cheat about one thing you’ll do the same with something else; right? We’ve already established what you are; now we’re simply arguing over how big of a liar, cheat and fraud you might happen to be.
But look at what an “energy consultant” has to say:
“We’re making exactly the same mistakes we did with Enron, just with a different commodity,” Robert McCullough, an energy consultant, said by telephone from Portland, Oregon. “The same manipulation we saw in electricity and gas pricing is what we’re seeing in oil.”
They’re not crimes, they’re not felonies, they’re not things that should land you in prison for bilking people, they’re “mistakes.”
We will NEVER solve any of these problems — not in the energy markets, not in the land title business, not in the lending business generally, not in student loans, not in colleges, not in board rooms, not on Wall Street generally — until we call things what they are.
A shark is a shark. A rattlesnake is a rattlesnake. An alligator is an alligator.
And a violation of black-letter law, whether in land titles, front-running, intentional misrepresentation by a company or anything else is a crime, not a mistake.
You want to know what drives me to want to say “screw this!”, turn off the computer and decide to raise a few goats and chickens instead of innovating, building and employing, and which has destroyed my interest in the latter over the last decade and a half?
THAT is what has done so and will continue to do so — and until it stops my position, and that of many other entrepreneurs, on this point will not change.