Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sokol's Greed

An executive of Berkshire Hathaway, David Sokol, a contender to succeed Warren Buffett himself, has resigned. He denies that his resignation had anything to do with his purchasing for his own account $10 million of stock in Lubrizol, when he knew it was or was soon to be considered by Buffett as a possible BH acquisition.

BH did, indeed, purchase Lubrizol, and it made Sokol over $3 million in profit on the stock he had earlier purchased.

Greed not only blinds, but it also leads one to think that everyone else is simply stupid, as Sokol states that his resignation had nothing to do with the Lubrizol matter.

Think about it, Sokol's fortune was already large enough that he could invest $10 million in a single stock position. Yet his greed led to his betrayal of a decent man, Warren Buffett, his employer BH, and the shareholders of BH who had supported him for 10 years. It defrauded the people or institutions from whom he bought his $10 million stock. It embarrasses his family and friends. It takes Sokol off track for much greater fortune and fame, as the possible head of BH. Finally, it exposes him to civil penalties and even criminal prosecution. (Compare the matter involving Martha Stewart, who went to prison on a very thin "insider trading" case for an amount of profit that is, in comparison to Sokol's profit, chump change. CORRECTION: Stewart went to prison for lying about what she did to investigators, not for doing what she did.)

What a story.

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