Pyramid of Profiteers

By Yarett, Ian; Coppins, Mckay | Newsweek, April 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

Pyramid of Profiteers


Yarett, Ian, Coppins, Mckay, Newsweek


Byline: Mckay Coppins And Ian Yarett

What was David Sokol thinking? The Berkshire Hathaway golden boy shocked the business world last month after he came under scrutiny for possible insider trading. He's hardly alone. Lining your pockets by exploiting Wall Street's gray areas is a time-honored tradition. Our guide to how Sokol stacks up.

Angelo Mozilo

Company: Countrywide Financial

Transgression: Pocketed millions while company doled out subprime mortgages, hid rising risks from investors.

Impact: Crippled the economy by contributing to the subprime-mortgage crisis.

Punishment: Fined $67.5 million by the SEC.

Dick Fuld

Company: Lehman Bros.

Transgression: Stubbornly passed up deals that could have saved his bank.

Impact: Investors paid the price when the company went bankrupt.

Punishment: Subpoenaed by U.S. attorney but hasn't been charged with a crime.

Al Dunlap

Company: Sunbeam

Transgression: Boosted Sunbeam's earnings to record levels through dubious accounting.

Impact: Investors felt duped, and Sunbeam ultimately filed for bankruptcy.

Punishment: Paid $15.5 million to settle shareholder and SEC lawsuits.

David Sokol

Company: Berkshire Hathaway

Transgression: Invested in Lubrizol just before Berkshire acquired it, earning him a substantial premium on his shares.

Impact: Warren Buffett's reputation took a knock.

Punishment: Sokol resigned and the SEC is reportedly weighing a probe.

Franklin Raines

Company: Fannie Mae

Transgression: Allegedly oversaw deceptive accounting practices, granting top bosses oversize bonuses.

Impact: Dragged Fannie Mae through the mud, costing it a $400 million civil fine.

Punishment: Paid relatively small fine, forfeited $5.3 million in benefits.

Joseph Cassano

Company: AIG

Transgression: AIG sold billions of dollars' worth of credit insurance to investment banks but couldn't produce the cash once the financial crisis hit. …

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