Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, seen here in a file photo from his 2006 trial, has been released after serving 12 years in prison (JAMES NIELSEN)

Washington (AFP) – Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling has been released from prison after serving 12 years for his role in the fraud scheme which sent the US energy giant into bankruptcy.

Skilling, 65, had been most recently incarcerated at a reentry facility in Houston, Texas, according to the US Bureau of Prisons website.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Skilling had been released on Thursday after completing 12 years of what was initially a 24-year sentence. It was eventually reduced on appeal.

A Harvard-educated whiz kid, Skilling once stood on the top rungs of America’s corporate ladder and graced the pages of glossy business magazines.

The native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and father of three was snapped up by Enron in the early 1990s following a stint as a consultant with McKinsey and Co.

He worked his way up through the ranks and held the Enron CEO title for just six months before quitting in August 2001 for “personal reasons,” just four months before the Houston-based energy trader collapsed.

Thousands of people lost their jobs and life savings when Enron went under, in what was then the largest corporate bankruptcy in US history with more than 40 billion dollars in outstanding debt.

Skilling was convicted in May 2006 of 19 counts of conspiracy, fraud and insider trading and ordered to forfeit about 45 million dollars in assets, including his home.

One of Skilling’s children, a 20-year-old son, died in 2011.

Enron founder Kenneth Lay was also convicted of fraud but died before he could be sentenced and his conviction was thrown out because his death prevented him from appealing the verdict.

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