Corporate Governance 101: You need ethical people running your company. And that means ethical in all regards. Microsemi Corp. (NASDAQ:MSCC) doesn’t think honest executives are necessary.
On Wednesday, news stories broke about the fact that James J. Peterson, CEO of Microsemi lied about his credentials. Specifically, Peterson claimed he had a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s of business administration, both from Brigham Young University. The school has confirmed that Peterson did take classes from 1978 to 1980, but he never received either degree.
Peterson apparently thought he could just say that wasn’t so, and the world would believe him. But the world did not. The records have been checked and rechecked, and Peterson simply does not have either college degree, despite his cliams of such over the last couple of decades.
In a press release, Peterson expands the lie by claiming that the school must have spelled his name wrong when checking the records:
Microsemi Corporation (Nasdaq:MSCC) announced today that its President and CEO, James J. Peterson, categorically denies published reports that he has misrepresented his degrees from Brigham Young University.
“I am working directly with the University to clarify this situation,” Peterson said. “It appears that the background check there may have mistakenly been made with the name ‘James J. Patterson,’ not mine, as stated in a Seeking Alpha report.”
Peterson further questions the reliability of tipster Barry Minkow, a convicted felon who spent seven years in prison for fraud, as the source for the reports. Minkow uses his tips as a means to profit from “put options” he buys on companies he researches. He uses a disclaimer on the factual accuracy of his reports.
“I have every reason to expect that Brigham Young will investigate this allegation shortly and officially confirm my degrees,” Peterson said.
The lie got expanded even further when Peterson apparently claimed he had some college credits earned while in the military that BYU must not have given him credit for.
BYU officials immediately slapped down Peterson’s new lies and reaffirmed that they are looking at the right records:
“We are working with the public, providing information as accurately as we possibly can,” Bunker said. The case wasn’t an issue of mistaken identity, he said, nor did Brigham Young receive credit earned by Peterson when he was in the military — two explanations that Peterson gave.
Peterson’s lies about the college degrees he doesn’t have are also listed in the regulatory filings of STEC Inc. (NASDAQ:STEC), as Peterson is a member of their board of directors. He is also on the audit, compensation, and nominating and corporate governance committees for STEC. How ironic that a man who lies about his credentials sits on the corporate government committee.
And, amazingly, the phony degrees are also listed on an application Peterson filed for a U.S. government security clearance.
And what’s the response of the board of directors of Microsemi? They simply don’t care. This was reported:
“I want to assure our shareholders that Jim’s educational credentials in no way reflect on the strength of Microsemi, which has been an industry leader,” Board Chairman Dennis Leibel said in a statement. “The Board’s continuing support of Jim Peterson re-affirms our backing of his strategies, operational excellence and proven executive leadership.”
What the board is apparently saying is that if you’re good enough at your job, we don’t care if you lie.