Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Desperate Housewives Meets the Executive Suite

The Wall Street Journal (here) has an article entitled "Scorned Spouses Can Wreak Havoc With Mates' Careers" that discusses the recent firing of Robert O'Connell as CEO of MassMutual Financial Group for "willful malfeasance" after an investigation triggered by a report from his wife that O'Connell was having an affair with another executive at the company.  O'Connell's termination was not due to the alleged affair, which was never confirmed (although around the time of O'Connell's termination, the executive also left MassMutual), but because of misuse of a retirement account to enrich himself improperly, among other allegations.  This past March, Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher was forced out of the company because he was having an affair with another executive at the company that included some rather graphic e-mails (see earlier post here). Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch's highly publicized affair and subsequent divorce proceeding resulted in the company settling an SEC administrative proceeding (here) in October 2004 regarding its failure to adequately disclose perks provided as part of Welch's retirement package.  Sex certainly sells, and is anyone really surprised that when affairs take place in the executive suite they can affect the operation of a company? While an affair in a company can be divisive, the Journal article also discusses a claim by a former client of a law firm that a partner of a firm had an affair with his wife while representing his company.  That is much more likely to be an ethical violation and a breach of the lawyer's fiduciary duty.  A wandering eye can wreak much havoc. (ph)

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Tracked on Jun 15, 2005 6:20:55 AM