The Guardian January 22, 2003

That's capitalism! You beaut!

As part of its January 1 New Year coverage, The Sydney Morning 
Herald devoted a whole page in its business section to what it called 
"Fifty stupid moments in 2002". A better headline would have been "Fifty 
greedy and corrupt moments". We reproduce a small selection of the 50 items 
listed by the SMH  lest we forget!

What are friends for anyway?

Self-made millionaire Martha Stewart resigned as the director of the New 
York Stock Exchange. Her resignation letter contained no details on how she 
pocketed about US$228,000 for selling 4000 ImClone shares the day before 
the US Food and Drug Administration rejected the firm's application to use 
its Erbitux drug on cancer patients.

The former CEO and founder of ImClone, Sam Waksal, pleaded guilty to 
charges of fraud, perjury, conspiracy, securities fraud and obstruction of 

But whether Waksal told his friends, including Martha Stewart to dump their 
shares has not been proven. Stewart has not been charged and denies any 

Thieves fall out

Adler reportedly invited Brad Cooper to a meeting in a North Sydney hotel 
to ask Cooper what he intended to tell the HIH Royal Commission the next 
day about short-selling HIH shares.

Cooper alleged Adler offered him $500,000 to change his evidence. Cooper 
accepted the meal but was later accused of trying to extort $1.8 million 
from Adler before the Monday morning.

Adler has been charged with manipulating the stockmarket and making false 
and misleading statements.

And weren't shareholders delighted!

The internal audit review of HIH's executive expenses revealed that former 
chief Ray Williams liked the occasional snack.

These included: $2462.50 ($700 for a tip) at the Nautilus Restaurant at 
Port Douglas and $2197.50 ($700 tip) at Pier Restaurant.

All this was in addition to the $157,796 spent on travel expenses and 
$38,165 spent by his wife, Rita.

Other goodies included $86,442.43 spent on watches for staff.

A tycoon with a bent for culture

Before his indictment on tax cheating, Tyco chief Dennis Kozlowski knew how 
to live it up.

He spent US$6000 on a shower curtain and US$15,000 for a dog umbrella stand 
and US$2.1 million on a 40th birthday party he threw in Sardinia for his 

It was a tasteful affair featuring a giant cake with exploding breasts and 
an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's "David" dispensing vodka through an 
appendage minus the fig leaf.

The cheque is in the mail

The chief executive of Perth's New Tel, Peter Malone, told one of his 
shareholders that he was expecting a $750,000 exit payout. New Tel has now 
been placed in receivership by Optus.

Who me?

As the debts piled up at New Tel, Mr Malone was asked if he was the same 
Peter Malone who had ordered a $370,000 black Aston Martin DB7 Vantage 
Volante and then paid $210,000 to have it stretched 15 centimetres.

Malone's PR machine insisted he was driving a 14-year-old Mercedes, 
forgetting that Malone had told the whole story to the UK's website.

Filthy lucre

US regulators started to look into the accounting at oil services company 
Halliburton for cost overruns incurred when it was run by Dick Cheney 
before he became US Vice-President to George W Bush.

Halliburton is well known for its ability to win contracts to help build US 
military bases in other countries.


Brambles chairman Don Argus denied that the company had lost its pallets. 
According to Argus, the missing 15 million or so CHEP pallets weren't 
really lost. Brambles just had to find them, that was all.

Let me say it again

US Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill demonstrated his mastery of putting his 
foot in it. When Enron collapsed, facing angry creditors, more than 4000 
ex-employees, some of whom had lost all their retirement savings, and a 
criminal probe by the US Justice Department, O'Neill said: "Companies come 
and go. It's part of the genius of capitalism."

A good idea at the time

Three years after promising to increase rail patronage by 84 percent and 40 
percent for trams, and to achieve what no government could ever do  make 
a profit  UK transport giant National Express said it was all too hard.

Writing off $400 million, it handed trains and trams back to the Victorian 

Using other people's money

The Tesna syndicate, headed by Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox, announced a 
$2.5 billion plan to revive Ansett's operations with 29 new planes flying 
major routes and 4000 staff working for lower wages and reduced conditions 
in return for a share of profits.

Four months later, Fox and Lew pulled out when the Government declined to 
foot the bill.

Only a few mistakes

Jean-Marie Messier, disgraced ex-chief of the world's second largest media 
group, Vivendi Universal, said his only big mistakes were that he should 
have sacked his directors, not done so many deals, sold the group's 
utilities subsidiary, got on better with politicians and listened to 
warnings from his family.

That didn't stop French investigators swooping on his home looking for 
evidence that the company had issued misleading financial information. "I 
don't have time to be depressed", Messier said.

What a guy!

Former GE ubermensch Jack Welch said he had finally decided that GE 
shareholders should not be expected to pay for his retirement package, 
which included maid service, corporate jets, the best seats at the US Open 
and basketball games, wine, food, newspapers, laundry and toiletries at an 
US$80,000-a-month Central Park apartment because of "perception matters". 
Not because it was wrong.

And so on and so on.

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