Gary Weiss has a great post at Seeking Alpha about Overstock.com, head clown Patrick Byrne, and the Overstock code of ethics. (What ethics?)
Using “ethics” in the same sentence as the corporate chamber pot “Overstock.com” (OSTK) is inherently absurd, I know. But one of the pitfalls of post-Enron reforms — if you’re a slippery, blame-shifting, critic-smearing CEO like Overstock’s Patrick Byrne — is that unethical conduct may not just be morally repugnant. It may fall afoul of the securities laws.
Sam Antar has been raising many issues that Overstock would rather the public not hear about.? Namely, there are these little instances in which it would appear Overstock
executives clowns Patrick Byrne and Judd Bagley appear to exaggerating or making deragatory remarks.
According to the Overstock.com code of ethics:
Business records and communications often become public, and we should avoid exaggeration, derogatory remarks, guess work, or inappropriate characterizations of people and companies that can be misunderstood. This applies equally to e-mail, internal memos, and formal reports.. In accordance with these policies, in the event of litigation or governmental investigation please consult with the company.s General Counsel.
We’re reminded also of this little circus:
Only last weekend, “Baghdad Byrne” posted a ludicrous series of nutty, evasive message board posts to slip-slide around his year-late disclosure of an SEC subpoena.
Add to that Overstock’s mouthpiece Judd Bagley:
Despite being appointed the company’s chief flack, Bagley continues to harass and stalk critics of Byrne and Overstock without disclosing his identity and corporate affiliation with each post. Indeed, as noted by O-Smear, Bagley in one post actually made fun of Regulation FD. In that now-deleted post he admitted to being a Yahoo screen name that has recommended purchase of Overstock shares.
I wonder how the SEC feels about a company official recommending purchase of a stock without identifying that he or she is a company official?
I wonder if the SEC takes the same flip view of FD as Overstock’s director of communications? I wonder how SEC enforcement officials feel about a corporate official making fun of FD in a post that, by using a pseudonym, itself thumbs its nose at FD?
Gary goes on to discuss the strange disappearance of one of Bagley’s post on a Yahoo message board long after it was posted. Is someone trying to cover their tracks???
I haven’t had time to add my two cents on the code of ethics issue, but stay tuned. I think tomorrow is the lucky day.