At the end of Warren Buffett’s statement about why David Sokol was suddenly leaving Berkshire Hathaway, he said he “held back nothing” in his explanation of the shock departure.But the company’s investigation into Sokol’s scandalous Lubrizol trades says otherwise.
According to the report,
On March 29, Mr. Buffett provided Mr. Sokol an opportunity to review for accuracy a draft Mr. Buffett had prepared of a press release announcing Mr. Sokol’s resignation and disclosing Mr. Sokol’s Lubrizol trades.
At Mr. Sokol’s request, Mr. Buffett deleted from the release the one passage Mr. Sokol said was inaccurate: a passage that implied that Mr. Sokol had resigned because he must have known the Lubrizol trades would likely hurt his chances of being Mr. Buffett’s successor.
Mr. Sokol told Mr. Buffett that he had not hoped to be Mr. Buffett’s successor, and was resigning for reasons unrelated to those trades.
This is just one more contradiction that already irate Berkshire shareholders will point to as symptomatic of a breakdown of management at the very top of the company.
We now know that Buffett knew before Sokol resigned that talks of a Lubrizol acquisition preceded his purchase of the shares, and not vice versa. Yet Buffett still declared: “I have held back nothing in this statement.”
No doubt the Oracle will get a grilling at this weekend’s shareholder meeting. Though it appears he’s kind of looking forward to it.