… are the subject of this post.

Michael Milkin, as Ryan Chittum points out in the Columbia Journalism Review, “pleaded guilty to six counts of securities fraud, paid $600 million in fines, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, and spent 26 months behind bars. He was also banned for life from the securities industry…”

“SAC Capital Advisors L.P., the hedge fund of Steven A. Cohen… was fined a staggering $1.8 billion by the federal government for insider trading activities,” notes Adam Asher. “Eight of the fund’s former employees have been slapped with criminal charges, all of whom have either pleaded or been found guilty. SAC Capital — recently rechristened Point72 Asset Management — is no longer allowed to manage outside money …”

Milken has just given UD‘s George Washington University fifty million dollars for its school of public health; Cohen remains on the board of trustees of Brown University. Chittum is annoyed that Milkin’s history is being “airbrushed.” He thinks “journalists shouldn’t deep-six who Michael Milken was, no matter what he’s done since.” Asher, a Brown University student, thinks Cohen should be off the board. “I find it hard to imagine there isn’t at least one other person on Wall Street who can offer comparable financial counsel — someone who hasn’t been fined nearly $2 billion by the federal government.” But “I have no illusions about the impact of this piece.”

I think Chittum’s right to be indignant that a man who hurt many people and profited handsomely from it, a man who significantly damaged the public’s trust in our financial system, gets a pass because, years later, he has become a major donor to excellent causes. But I don’t (as I said in an earlier post) think GW should turn his money down. I think that routine acknowledgement of Milken’s misdeeds should accompany – however subtly – his presentation to the world.

As to Cohen – lordy, lordy. I’ve been for ages amazed at his retention on Brown’s corporation. Asher writes:

Since the investigation first became public, it has always been taken as a given that Cohen would remain on the Board of Trustees so long as he wasn’t sitting in a jail cell — and even then, I’m not sure he would have gotten the boot.

UD thanks Roy.

Trackback URL for this post:

4 Responses to “Two Morally Compromised, Cosmically Rich, and Sincerely Generous People…”

  1. Alan Allport Says:

    I could get behind this a bit more if Milken wasn’t so tiresomely driven, as these fat cats always seem to be, with plastering his name everywhere. I mean: “As part of the Milken Family Foundation gift, the school will be led by the Michael and Lori Milken Dean of Public Health; and the dean will award Michael and Lori Milken Public Health Scholarships.”

    As Arianna Huffington (yeah, I know, but anyway) once said: if these guys are so obsessed with their own names, why don’t they just offer 1,000,000 homeless people $1,000 each to change their name by deed poll to, say, ‘Michael Milken’?

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Alan: LOL.

  3. Mr Punch Says:

    People I know in the securities business (for what that’s worth) think that Milken basically made his money (what he had after the fine) legally, and that the insider trading episode which led to his guilty plea is not in fact of a piece with his innovations in finance. There is of course a great deal of controversy around junk bonds, but at this point in our history a financier who pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and served time should perhaps be regarded as a good example.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Mr Punch: I agree: By prevailing standards, you’re describing a good example.

Comment on this Entry

Latest UD posts at IHE