Top Ten Crooked CEOs
Time Magazine’s online magazine has a new story titled Top Ten Crooked CEOs. It actually comes out being 11, since the very first one they show is actually two people, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling of Enron.
Just to throw this in, I always had a feeling that Kenneth Lay was actually railroaded into a conviction, and that’s probably naive of me. His overall actions didn’t seem like those of a guilty person, and when his claim that CEOs don’t always get the correct figures from the finance people was met with derision, I actually believed it because I’ve seen it happen.
Years ago I was working at a hospital where things just didn’t seem like the VP of Finance was reporting. I got there at a bad time, helped bring cash into the door, yet for some reason where I was working was having problems paying vendors, even though the VP was reporting profits of nearly a million dollars. Turns out she was changing the figures manually, and twice fired everyone in the accounting department for incompetence because they couldn’t help her justify her figures.
When it looked like it was going to happen again, the director of the department went to the board and showed them some numbers. They understood, she was now on her way out, and they looked at the CEO, who kept saying he had full belief in her competence, yet when presented with the numbers was stunned that he’d been misled. Yeah, he ended up going also, since it turned out we actually had a loss of almost a million; a $2 million dollar swing for a small company is never a good thing.
Anyway, back to the list. We all know Bernie’s on there; that one was easy. Many of the people on the list have been accused of insider trading, and I have to admit that’s one that escapes me all the time. I mean, how could CEOs not do insider trading; they’re right there, if they know the numbers they know whether to buy more or sell to protect themselves. If insider trading is bad, at least for CEOs and the like, then they shouldn’t be given stock options and shouldn’t be allowed to own any stock for the company they work at unless they created it.
Actually, the oddest thing is that no one from Arthur Anderson, the failed accounting firm that was actually convicted of aiding Enron in cooking its books, didn’t end up having anyone at the top go to jail for them, and actually is still around, which is surprising, though nothing like they once were. And, if I got my way, there would be a whole lot of bank managers who should have been arrested and tried, at least, for what’s helped to drive us into the economic fix we’re in now.
Anyway, check out the list; I think it’s quite entertaining.