An enraged Enron employee asked then-boss Kenneth Lay if he was on crack during a staff meeting, videotaped as the energy trading giant began to unravel amid allegations of insider trading and financial misdeeds.
The tape aired on U.S. television Wednesday.
"I would like to know if you are on crack. If so that would explain a lot, if not you may want to start because it's going to be a long time before we trust you again," was one written comment Lay read out at the meeting, held Oct. 23.
"I think that's probably not a very happy employee and that's understandable," Lay said in response.
Enron, once the world's largest energy trader and a Wall Street darling, made the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history on Dec. 2. Damning allegations of financial misdeeds evaporated investor confidence, threw thousands out of work and wiped out workers' retirement savings.
The staff meeting, broadcast on NBC, happened just days after Enron reported its first quarterly loss in over four years after taking charges of $1 billion on poorly performing businesses.
In the video Lay, who last week quit as Enron's chairman and chief executive officer, apologized to his workers and promised to get back money they lost when the company's share price plummeted.
"Let me say right up front, I am absolutely heartbroken about what's happened both over the last few months and more importantly the last several days," he told glum-faced employees.
"Many of you, who were a lot wealthier six to nine months ago, are now concerned about college education for your kids, maybe the mortgage on your house, maybe your retirement and for that I am incredibly sorry. But we're going to get it back."
Enron on Tuesday named restructuring expert Stephen Cooper as acting chief executive, over candidates that included former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to one member.
Cooper, 55, is managing principal of New York-based restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper, an advisory firm for companies in crisis.
Shares in Enron traded at more than $90 in August 2000 but now trade over-the-counter at about 45 cents.
Earlier this week Lay's wife, Linda, said her family lost its fortune when Enron, the once-proud linchpin of the Houston economy and national energy market, collapsed.
"There's nothing left... Everything we had mostly was in the one stock...Other than the home we live in, everything else is for sale.. We are fighting for liquidity," she said.
But NBC said they had found at least 10 homes or lots, owned by the couple, that were not listed for sale and were worth about $10 million. The network said Lay was entitled to a severance package of $25 million.
And as of Jan. 1, the former-Enron chief owned more than $5 million in two companies -- with 340,724 shares in the No. 2 personal computer company Compaq and 20,220 in drugmaker Eli Lilly.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.