In Buffett Heir Apparent's Past: More Shadiness

Critics come out of the woodwork for ousted Berkshire exec
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2011 8:46 AM CDT
David Soko speaks to shareholders prior to the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, May 1, 2010.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

(Newser) – David Sokol’s sudden resignation—and the scandal that accompanied it—shocked the business world last week, but this isn’t the first time Warren Buffett’s ex-heir apparent's ethics have been questioned. Just last year, a judge rebuked Sokol for accounting irregularities at MidAmerican Energy, the company he was chief executive of when it was bought by Berkshire Hathaway in 1999, the New York Times points out. The judge said Sokol had improperly changed his accounting in a deliberate attempt “to eliminate the minority shareholders’ interests.”

Sokol also drew criticism when his Netjets firm filed a lawsuit last November so he could subpoena author Alice Schroeder to get her to reveal a source for her unauthorized Buffett biography, The Snowball. That suit was dropped yesterday in the wake of Sokol’s resignation. The Times also found plenty who were willing to criticize Sokol’s “hard-charging” management style. “There is nothing wrong with being tough,” said one banker who worked with him. “There is something wrong with only looking out for No. 1.”

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