It is with deep regret that I write to inform employees that several members of the executive team have been arraigned on racketeering charges for allegedly pumping the Company's stock in various Internet chat rooms. As this saga played out in a series of raids over the weekend, my inbox began to fill with employees' frequently asked questions. I'll attempt to answer them here.
Will I be arrested? No. Assuming you did nothing wrong and your manager has no arbitrary desire to make you a scapegoat, then I'd say you have an 80% chance of steering clear of law enforcement agents.
Are you, as CEO, responsible for this? No. Because the Company and its officers have done nothing wrong, no one can or should be held responsible.
Should I worry about my own stock-pumping activities? No. As Alfred E. Neuman once said, "What, me worry?" But seriously, folks, on the advice of our legal department, I must ask employees to stop any activity that could be construed as stock pumping.
Will this damage our relationships with customers? No. At least not with customers that are worth half a damn. Who cares about the others?
Will I lose my job? No. The Company has cash on hand to sustain us through month's end and to helicopter me to a remote part of Brazil if required. After the first of next month, your guess is as good as mine.
Is this the end of the bad news? Yes. Investigations by several federal and state agencies into our business practices continue. But I believe that if we all keep a positive attitude and stay focused on the Company's core values, we'll soon end this trying period and face a brighter future. Also, I'm having lunch with Eliot Spitzer next week, so our competitors may have more to worry about than we do.
A version of this article appeared in the April 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.