Top executives and directors of the biggest business collapses amassed billions of dollars in salary and share sales while the stock market was still booming.
According to the Financial Times, in just three years they grossed about $3.3bn before their companies went bust. The bankruptcies wiped out hundreds of billions of dollars of shareholder value and nearly 100,000 jobs.
Here at Democracy Now!, we have looked at the scandals behind the bankruptcies, and the workers who have lost their jobs and retirement savings.
But we haven’t yet looked at where some of the executives’ billions are spent.
Today we’re going to talk about a case involving former Enron executive Lou Pai, who has cashed out more than $270 million in stock since 1999. That is far more than former CEO Ken Lay made away with.
Lou Pai is at the center of one of the most controversial land claims in the country. He used $23 million from Enron stock to buy a 77,000 acre ranch that members of the mostly Hispanic community of San Luis say is their birthright.
The story of this community’s dispossession is a long one, dating back to the Mexican-American war, and involving the National Forest Service, the Rockefellers, Forbes, and now Enron exec Lou Pai.
Most recently, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a historic ruling that residents of San Luis are entitled to graze livestock and cut timber on Pai’s ranch.
We’re joined right now by Adam Saytanides, a freelance journalist who has covered this story for six years. Adam Saytanides, tell us the story of this land.
- Adam Saytanides, freelance journalist based in Chicago who has been covering the Taylor Ranch since 1996.
- Ray Otero, lifetime landgrant activist who is an integral part of the Chicano movement. He is the activist who went to San Luis in the late 70s and organized the community to file the lawsuit. Ray was also employed by Enron and lost his job and his savings in the Enron scandal.
- Shirley Otero. Shirley is from San Luis, her family is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.