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Portfolio's Worst American CEOs of All Time

By Portfolio.com

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3. Ken Lay

When it comes to bad CEOs, Lay was the complete package: He was not only dishonest but disastrously inept as a manager as well. Lay, who founded Enron and turned it into a $70 billion energy company, was uninterested in the day-to-day tasks of running the business.

Consequently, he gave free rein to untrustworthy subordinates like Jeff Skilling and Andy Fastow. He also signed off on a maze of convoluted transactions that formed the basis of a massive accounting fraud that would wipe out investors and bring down the corporation. Lay was convicted of securities fraud in 2006. If he hadn’t died soon afterward, he would have faced as many as 30 years in prison.

THE STAT: Enron stock lost 99.7 percent of its value in 2001.

Enron Creditors Recovery Corp.

By Portfolio.com