Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) recently won a court case against a former employee and has judgement for about $10 million. Maybe paper judgement but the judge has ruled in favour of Morgan Stanley. Whats this all about? $10 million at Morgan Stanley is a rounding error. Well usually it is but in this specific case Morgan Stanley is building corporate culture and drawing lines in the sand.
It seems that a former employee Joseph F. Skowron, the onetime star hedge fund manager is serving jail time for insider trading, and now needs to pay $10.2 million to his former employer Morgan Stanley. Not a rounding error for Joseph F Skowron. But wait the $10 million is still not enough for Morgan Stanley they are seeking $45 million in civil court. The case becomes a lawyers delight.
The entire case may not seem strategic but as reported by NYT Dealbook the stakes are high. Morgan Stanley is taking the opportunity to show other employees who may consider some form of malfeasance that they will be subject to both civil and criminal proceedings. You can make rules but for some people it’s not about the rule it’s about the consequences. So while Morgan Stanley could have relied on its insurance policies or just written a cheque and hoped to keep it quiet it now is embedding into its corporate culture that if you are found guilty of securities infractions you will be prosecuted. You will be persecuted. You will be hounded. And if you are married and have children we will not be taking care of them. jail time will not be an embarrassment.
Usually I write negatively about publicly traded companies and I have not been a big fan of the bulge bracket firms. But in this case I appreciate what Morgan Stanley is doing to protect investors and themselves.
Just by way of quick summary if you are not aware of the timeline:
- Joseph F. Skowron is a former star hedge fund manager for Morgan Stanley-owned FrontPoint Partners.
- Joseph F. Skowron is a Yale educated doctor who was lured into the hedge fund world.
- FrontPoint partners was acquired by Morgan Stanley in 2006.
- Skowron tried to bribe another French doctor to reveal the results of confidential clinical trials.
- Skowron who was also called “Chip” was caught, sent to prison for five years and was ordered to pay $5 million.
- No evidence if he has been able to write this cheque or others from his prison cell.
So note to employees who are thinking about it. Don’t do it. especially if you work for those bastards at Morgan Stanley. They’ll come after you.
A short news search of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Citigroup (NYSE:C) and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) failed to identify a similar situation. Or perhaps it failed to identify a vigorous defence of corporate culture and therefore mitigation of future and embarrassing losses.
George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective.
- Sorry, Morgan Stanley. But Chip Skowron Doesn’t Think You’re Really A Victim (businessinsider.com)