In a taped interview with our Becky Quick after facing hours of questioning from Berkshire Hathaway shareholders today in Omaha, Buffett says, "I wouldn't have written the press release that way."
The release started out with several paragraphs praising Sokol's "extraordinary" contributions to Berkshire, prompting critics to question why he wasn't more "ruthless" with someone who would be hurting the company's reputation.
Buffett says he thought people would see the release he did write as very "damning" because it also included details of Sokol's Lubrizol trades.
Buffett tells us that right after it was issued, Berkshire handed over details to the SEC.
Buffett's release said, "Neither Dave nor I feel his Lubrizol purchases were in any way unlawful."
Barry Levine, a partner at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, said in an e-mailed statement to Reuters, "David Sokol is deeply saddened that Mr. Buffett, whom he considered a friend and mentor, would disparage him as he has done today."
Levine said Sokol had honored his fiduciary duties, and never broke the law or any Berkshire policy. He also said that Buffett had reneged on his defense of Sokol, including his March 30 statement in which he called Sokol's Lubrizol investment lawful.
"It is alarming that Mr. Buffett would be advised to so completely flip-flop and resort to transparent scapegoatism," Levine said.
"After 11 years of dedicated and hugely successful service to various Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries, Mr. Sokol would have expected to be treated fairly. That would have been in Berkshire's interest."
2011 BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY SHAREHOLDERS MEETING
Current DateTime: 03:30:23 30 Apr 2011
LinksList Documentid: 42823411
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Download the 2010 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report
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