Sunday, October 10, 2010

Greed Queen of Disaster: Jamie Gorelick

Jamie Gorelick, attorney with Wilmer Hale, had a role in two disasters, Fannie Mae and BP.  As Vice Chair of Fannie Mae, Gorelick served as #2 during a time of accounting shenanigans.  Those machinations were personally profitable for Jamie.  Her bonuses, based on fraudulent numbers, were:

According to the same SEC report, she held nearly 300,000 stock options.

A federal investigation found regarding Fannie Mae's improper accounting (Haggerty, et. al..):

1.  Applying accounting methods and practices that did not comply with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to the company's derivatives transactions and hedging.
2.  Using a “cookie jar” of reserves to improperly delay recognizing income so that it can be used to enhance results in later periods.
3.  Tolerating what it called “internal control deficiencies”.
4.  Maintaining a corporate culture that emphasized stable earnings at the expense of accurate financial disclosures.
5. The existence of an arrogant and unethical culture

Jamie established that corporate culture as Senior Executive and Vice Chair of the Board.  Her tenure, 1997-2003, mirrored the accounting scandal which ran from 1998-2004.  The investigation revealed Gorelick was paid more than $26 million during her time at Fannie.  Were any of her ill begotten gains returned?

Gorelick left Fannie, joining Wilmer Hale in June 2003.  Her role is described as follows:

Ms. Gorelick represents companies on regulatory, compliance, governance and enforcement issues.
Jamie went on to serve on BPAmerica's External Advisory Council.  Their 2008 description of her states:

One of the longest-serving Deputy Attorneys General, Gorelick is a member of numerous boards, and lectures on corporate governance and business ethics.
BP's "longest serving" equals three years, April 1994 to April 1997.  However, it's not Jamie's first time representing BP on an oil spill:

Gorelick is only reprising a role for BP that she played in 2007, when the company was scrambling to deal with yet another oil spill, off the coast of Alaska. Then, the company was fined $50 million. 
Jamie Gorelick worked magic in the White House.  BP avoided responsibility for unemployed oil field workers, while setting the company up to continue operating in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gorelick currently provides board leadership for public companies, United Technologies and Schlumberger.  She serves on compensation and audit committees.  Did she learn any lessons from Fannie Mae's distorting pay for performance?

It's hard to see the water when you're a fish.  Jamie Gorelick is the model for greed.

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