family.jpgOften times, when high level executives leave a company under a cloud they conveniently use their families as the excuse. Even though many of these guys spend years focused on nothing but work, they think we’ll all buy their sudden desire to spend more time with the spouse and kids.

A quick Google search for “CEO,” “resign,” and “spend more time with family” turned out a bunch of top executives who have recently departed for familial obligations, and it’s not just the heads of corporations. The CEO of Chivas USA, a professional soccer team in Los Angeles, just stepped down to “spend more quality time with my family.”

david_sokol.jpgBut this week’s ejected top dog, David Sokol — a man thought to be the successor to billionaire Warren Buffett — came with the most unusual reason for a departure I’ve ever heard. It does involve his family, but not the prerequisite quality-time-with-his-loved-ones defense. This time it’s all about money.

Sokol, who was chairman of a few of Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiaries is leaving after he bought stock in a company and then persuaded his boss, Buffett, to buy the company. Sokol made $3 million in profits from his stock purchase in less than three months, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sounds fishy, and highly unethical, but the government hasn’t commented yet on the situation.

Sokol’s resignation letter didn’t mention the shady deal, but he did say:

“… it is my goal to utilize the time remaining in my career to invest my family’s resources in such a way as to create enduring equity value and hopefully an enterprise which will provide opportunity for my descendents and funding for my philanthropic interests.”

So, he’s basically saying he’s leaving in order to help his family’s finances. For most of us, staying in our jobs would be the best way to help our kins’ financial futures, but hey, the super rich seem to have magical investment powers.

It’s clearly an odd thing to say, especially when he could have given the deposed-executive cookie-cutter answer of wanting to spend more time making cookies with the young ‘uns.

Maybe Sokol realizes how “pathetic” that excuse can sound. One departing leader said as much recently.

In his exit-from-politics speech, Chris Dodd, the democratic senator from Connecticut, said:

“There’s nothing more pathetic, in my view, than a politician who announces they’re only leaving public life to spend more time with their family.”

Indeed, it’s more refreshing to have disgraced head honchos get a bit closer to what they really mean, and Sokol may have gotten closer than most.

Here’s my take on what the next dishonored despot should say in his or her resignation letter:

“I’m leaving because I got too greedy and went too far in my drive to become even richer. And now that you caught me, my top priority will be making sure I keep as much of my ill-gotten gains as I can for my family and me.”

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