Monday, June 05, 2006

Gallows humor from inside Enron

As people work through the Enron emails that are part of SpamOrHam there are a few gems showing up. Many people inside the company sent email assuming that the messages were private or would never be seen. After FERC made them all public we've all been able to see inside this, now infamous, company. A new feature of SpamOrHam lets people reading the messages flag them as funny.

Three such examples of gallows humor from inside the company are the following (I've deleted headers etc. and am just showing the body of the message).

The first message describes a fictional company called 'Kenron':

Today we offer vast diversified product range, including office space in many major US and European cities, second hand computer equipment, and useless IT Helpdesk promotional gimmickry. In fact we have the largest stock of nearly new Compaq and Sun computers in the world. These products give customers the flexibility they need to lose all their money and achieve into the highly sought after status of suing our ass in a class action.

It's difficult to define Kenron in a sentence, but our senior executives have been described as "incompetent", "arrogant" and " a bunch of thieving bustards" by many top tier financial institutions. We falsify commodity markets so that we can deliver physical commodities to our customers at a ridiculously unsustainable price. It's difficult, too, to talk about Kenron without using the word "screwed." Most of the things we do have never been done before, like going from a market capitalisation of nearly $90 billion to $199 in the space of a year!!!!

We believe in the economic benefits of secret, underhanded insider trading, and we play a leading role in ripping off our investors. We initiated the wholesale bandwidth markets in the United States, and we are helping to build similar markets in Europe and elsewhere. Shame we lost billions in doing so :-(

Every day we strive to hype up our share price to unrealistic highs, with the sole purpose of suckering the investor community and lining our own pockets. Our passion has enabled us to completely mismanage risk. No wonder Misfortune Magazine surveys have named Kenron the most innovative company in America for six years in a row. Our emloyees think Kenron is such a wonderful place to work, thousands are leaving every day to spread the word around the world.

Knron's four business units -- Wholesale Services, Energy Services, Broadband Services and Transportation Services -- ARE NOW CLOSED.

Another tackles the important topic of explaining Enron to your children:

How to Explain Enron to Your Children:

Feudalism - You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

Fascism - You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

Communism - You have two cows. Your neighbors help take care of them and you share the milk.

Totalitarianism - You have two cows. The government takes them both and denies they ever existed and drafts you into the army. Milk is banned.

Capitalism - You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell the milk and retire on the income.

Enron - You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly-listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Islands partnership secretly owned by the CFO of the publicly listed company who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more, and that these and certain other cow-related activities give milk, both realized and unrealized/notional, at an annual run rate of 1.54 billion gallons

Finally there's an Enron-related 419 scammer:

Dear Friend,

Good day to you. I may have to trouble your sense of personal achievement and reward for an opportunity properly taken advantage of.

I am Mr. Michael Ramsey, a representative and an attorney to Kenneth Lay, the former chairman & CEO, Enron Corp. Industry: Energy & Natural Resources Home, is presently in jail and facing trial on charges of corruption and embezzlement of funds while in Power.He deposited Twenty one million U.S Dollars ($21,000,000.00) with me when he was in power as the chairman.

I am contacting you because I want you to deal with the Finance house and claim the money on my behalf since I have declared that the Funds belong to my foreign business partner. You shall also be required to assist me in investment in your country. I hope to trust you as a God fearing person who will not sit on this money when you claim it, rather assist me properly, shared in these percentages, 60% to me and 40% to you. When I receive your positive response I will let you Know where the Finance houses his and the document's to lay claims to the funds, which is very important. What I need is for you to indicate your interest that you will assist us by receiving the money on my behalf in Europe.For this, you shall be considered to be the
beneficiary to the funds.

The project in brief,is that the funds with which we intend to carry out our proposed investments in your country, is presently in the custody of a bank in Europe. I do not want the government of my Country to know about the money because they will believe I got the money from the sales of Enron stock when he was the Chairman of Enron & C.E.O.Once I have your details in full,the finance house will contact you for Release of the funds to your account As soon as payment is effected, and the amount mentioned above is successfully transferred into your account, I intend to use my own share in acquiring some estates abroad. For this too you shall also be the overseas manager of all our properties and you will be paid based on a certain percentage agreed on by both parties.

I guarantee you that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect yoa from any breach of the law. Please get in touch with me urgently by E-mail:[email protected]

I am presently in LONDON.
Please, provide me the following:
1. Your Full Name
2. Your Telephone Number and Fax Number
3. Your Contact Address

Best Regards,
Michael Ramsey.

If you find more funny or touching emails then please click the 'Flag mail as funny' checkbox in SpamOrHam and I'll publish them.

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If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.

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