What do Bernie Ebbers, Walter Forbes, Martin Grass, Dennis Kozlowski, Sanjay Kumar, Ken Lay, Joe Nacchio, John Rigas, Jeff Skilling, and Sam Waksal all have in common?
They were all CEOs of prominent public companies, convicted of big-time corporate fraud and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. They were all also fabulously wealthy (we're talking hundreds of millions of dollars and up) when they committed their crimes.
Who among us hasn't asked themselves, what would I do with $100 million? You get all kinds of whimsical answers to that question, but one thing you never hear is, "I'm going to risk the money, my family's well-being, and my freedom to be a high-powered CEO and defraud thousands of shareholders."
That's because nobody thinks that way and these ten CEOs were no exception. Nevertheless, they risked their careers, families, reputation, wealth, power, everything. And for what? What motivates rich, high-powered CEOs to unnecessarily risk it all against all logic and ethical principals?
Maybe it isn't even about motivation. Perhaps there's something deeper going on here, something in their circuitry that's hard-wired for exceptional success followed by devastating disaster. Or is it just probability? Maybe x% of highly successful, super-wealthy CEOs of prominent public companies will turn out to be dysfunctional crooks.… Read more