Burning some witches

i read in today’s wsj that prosecutors are recommending life sentences for bernie ebers (worldcom) and the rigas family (adelphia).  this is the most clear indication that our justice system remains a largely politically motivated,  unfair and biased institution. our country is sinking down a slippery slope where it’s now normal and common practice for politics to be a part of how justice is managed. the republicans are putting admittedly biased individuals into federal judgeships. our congress is bipassing the constitution to overrule judicial rulings to suit their political whims.

what sickens me is that we are not making anything better, but rather preserving a corrupt status quo. the govt appeases the masses by burning a few token ceo’s at the stake while allowing hundreds of others to continue with their quarterly corruption. when 414 public companies restate earnings in a single year (2004) we have a systemic problem. when the SEC’s board is comprised of the the heads of the very firms it regulates we have a systemic problem.

i have a few questions for you all…

  • why are corporations allowed to invest in political campaigns and lobbyists? does this really promote democracy?
  • how can we all sleep at night knowing that different people can be sentenced to 1 year or life based on the location and time of conviction?

we’re not dealing with dangerous people. society will be no safer with bernie behind bars.  is a life sentence arbitrarily issued for political expediency really greater deterent than say a ten year sentence consistently given? no! is prison for a few token scapegoats going to stop corruption? no!

Change the Rules, Reform the System

the only way to fix the system is to change the rules. i’ve blogged before that there is a simple effective way to stop the 414 companies in their tracks and that’s to go after the personal profits in the system. the SEC simpy needs to amend the 16B rule on insider sales (which today forces insiders to disgorge profits on short swing trades) to say that any profits on sales during periods of fraud or significant restatement must be disgorged (that is returned to injured investors).  this would have captured the enron guys, gary winnick’s $600m from global crossing, john moores $600m from peregrine, schlushy’s money on healthsouth, greenberg for AIG. if we really want to do something unprecedented, how about making this law retroactive? who says we cant do that? lets go after everyone back 10 years and force them to repay the money. what’s ironic, is that while there is no outcry to save the couple of scapegoats from unjust life sentences, there would be bankers, ceo’s and politicians in the streets fighting this proposal, as it would move billions.

and fuck sarbanes oxley. the dumbest law i’ve ever heard of. that’s just another bullshit political move to keep us all sleeping. it makes about as much sense as asking a witness to pledge on the bible that they will tell the ‘whole’ truth. (guess clinton missed the ‘whole’ part when he said he didnt have any ‘sexual relations’.)

6 thoughts on “Burning some witches

  1. Awesome post. But it’s often hard to tell how much executives actually made on there corrupt dealings. The money is often laundered off to other countries, where it’s impossible to trace. One of my previous CEOs started an off-shore bank in-and-around 2000. 2+2.

  2. If you want to get to the bottom of the problem and *really* start fixing it, you have to “follow the money”… and completely tear down and reconstruct Wall Street, from the investment banks, “exchanges”, and money managers, all the way to the in-house proprietary trading desks at the big money center banks.
    Face it: Wall Street enables, empowers, aids, and abets the deceptive accounting practices of companies, public and private. Sure, Wall Street may not directly and explicitly dictate to firms that they deceive people, but there is an awful lot of nodding and winking going on, and Wall Street provides a lot of powerful incentives to cutting corners.
    Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that any of that will happen, but without such a radical restructuring of our investment financial system, any cosmetic changes such as SarBox or changes you’ve suggested will be as effective as merely placing doilies on a dung heap.
    Turning a blind eye needs to be considered a felony.
    — Jack Krupansky

  3. ah but randy we have every stock sale perfectly tracked through 13d filings. that’s why this is such a simple concept. AND no need to prove any corp corruption or individual invovlement; simply said, if you sold during a period that is later that later has a material restatement of earnings, you must forfeit all profits to be divided by all investors who sold during that period on a pro rata basis. winnick’s $600m would go a long way.

  4. Mark, 13d is not a corruption tracking form. Those that do file their 13d might be completely innocent. Do you expect the VP of R&D to repay his profits, because unknown to him, the CFO was cooking the books?

  5. yes randy. i dont care if the vp r&d is guilty or innocent. imagine if you sell me a car and it turns out to be a lemon. in california, i have the right to demand my money back. doesnt matter if you knew it was a lemon. point is that you sold a bad product and the buyer shouldnt get stuck with the loss.

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