After meeting last week with Gary Gensler, President Obama’s choice for chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said he “[was] concerned about the deregulatory orientation of this nominee’s past.” Harkin said he intended to further explore this and other issues during Gensler’s confirmation hearing, which he said would be scheduled soon before the agriculture panel.

Former Enron Corp. CEO Jeffrey Skilling, whose 2006 convictions were upheld by a three-judge appellate panel in early January, has appealed the decision to the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. According to court filings, Skilling’s defense team asked the circuit court to decide whether to hold an “en banc” hearing. A three-judge panel upheld all 19 convictions against Skilling, but it ordered the former Enron boss to be resentenced (see NGI, Jan. 12). The full 22-member appeals court may accept or decline to consider the appeal. Asking for a full-court review would allow Skilling eventually to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The filings argue that the three-judge panel’s decision conflicts with other rulings by the full circuit court on the issue of “honest services” fraud. Skilling claims that because he believed he was acting in the best interests of Enron, he could not be guilty of depriving Enron shareholders of his honest services as CEO. The filings also questioned the panel’s findings that Skilling received a fair trial in Houston, where Enron was headquartered. The new appeal puts on hold Skilling’s resentencing, which was to be done by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, the presiding trial judge. Lake sentenced Skilling to 24 years and four months in federal prison based on his interpretation of federal sentencing guidelines. Based on the resentencing order, Skilling is expected to receive 15-20 years in prison.

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