dark swap
n. To trade unused capacity (such as bandwidth on a fiber-optic cable) for the unused capacity owned by another company and then report the new capacity as an asset.

Example Citation:
Then Lerach threw out more sinister phrases — "dark swaps," "massive insider trading."
—Marie Brenner, "The Enron Wars," Vanity Fair, April, 2002

Earliest Citation:
One lawyer suing Enron's top officers and directors, for allegedly inflating the stock's value improperly, charges that most of the unit's trades were shams designed to hype the venture and create short-term revenue. "There were only 20 legitimate broadband trades. Everything else was just a 'dark swap,'" attorney Bill Lerach said during a federal court hearing on Friday.
—"Enron's broadband venture faces new probe," Retuers, December 12, 2001

Notes:
Here's a citation that explains how a dark swap works:


Have you ever heard of "dark swaps"? The Dealer had not until yesterday. But then he learned that these sinister-sounding beasties helped to bring down energy trader Enron. So here it is. No broadband fibre-optic cable is fully used. In the trade, the spare capacity is known as "dark cable".

And for accounting purposes it is worthless — like owning a railway on which no trains run.

But this is the sort of challenge that appeals to finance chiefs — Harry Potters of the corporate world. So they have a spell to turn imaginary stuff — the dark cable — into money.

The trick is to swap it for spare capacity owned by other companies.

And abracadabra — the result of the transaction magically appears on both balance sheets.
—The Dealer, "It's the business," Daily Star, December 13, 2001

Related Words:

Category: