THE BLOG
07/12/2010 12:05 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Moffat's Sex. Nietzsche's Memory.

It used to be sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll -- now it's sex, drugs, rock 'n roll, politics and Wall Street. For some reason, a lot of folks just get hung up about that sex thing. For example, consider the recent revelations about Robert Moffat, Jr., the former IBM vice President who was snared in the ongoing Galleon insider trading case.

In a March 29, 2010 press release from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York: "Former IBM Senior Vice President Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Insider Trading ," we were told in matter-of-fact style that:

From August to October 2008, MOFFAT engaged in an insider trading scheme in which MOFFAT obtained material,nonpublic information ("Inside Information") relating to IBM,Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. ("AMD") and Lenovo Group Ltd.("Lenovo"), and provided it to DANIELLE CHIESI, a friend who worked during the relevant time period for New Castle Partners,an equity hedge fund group affiliated with JP Morgan Chase & Co. At the time of the conspiracy, MOFFAT was a Senior Vice President and Group Executive in IBM's Systems and Technology Group. In addition, MOFFAT also served as a non-voting member of Lenovo's Board of Directors.

From August to October 2008, MOFFAT engaged in an insider trading scheme in which MOFFAT obtained material,nonpublic information ("Inside Information") relating to IBM,Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. ("AMD") and Lenovo Group Ltd.("Lenovo"), and provided it to DANIELLE CHIESI, a friend who worked during the relevant time period for New Castle Partners,an equity hedge fund group affiliated with JP Morgan Chase & Co. . .

[S]pecifically, in September 2008, MOFFAT provided Chiesi with Inside Information relating to IBM's and Lenovo's performance in the companies' respective fiscal quarters ending in September 2008. In addition, in August and September 2008, MOFFAT provided CHIESI with Inside Information relating to a business deal pursuant to which AMD would spin off its manufacturing business into a separate entity. . .

Ah yes, Danielle Chiesi was merely "a friend who worked during the relevant time period." Frankly, there appears to have been quite a bit more to this story than what was disclosed in the criminal plea.

Fortune magazine just published a compelling article: "Dangerous liaisons at IBM: Inside the biggest hedge fund" insider-trading ring(By James Bandler with Doris Burke, July 6, 2010). In addition to the details of Moffat's descent into the criminal conduct of insider trading, we are presented with a nuanced glimpse into his personal life -- which includes his wife dealing with multiple sclerosis and a sexual relationship with Danielle Chiesi that began in 2003. Except, well, if you believe Moffat, it wasn't really a sexual relationship -- it wasn't really about sex. No...not really. Consider this provocative paragraph from the Fortune article:

In an interview with Fortune, Moffat came across as emotional, repentant, and chastened. He wept describing the embarrassment he'd brought upon IBM, his colleagues, and family. While he showed little self-pity, he rebuffed the notion that he hadn't paid a price for his crimes, noting that by leaving IBM he was giving up an estimated $65 million in lost stock options and pension that he would have collected when he retired at 60. "The biggest thing I've lost," he said, "is my reputation." Moffat was not allowed by his lawyer to discuss his case or his relationship with Chiesi, but when told that Fortune intended to write about the affair, he said this: "Everyone wants to make this about sex. Danielle had an extensive network of business people. And she added clarity about what was going on in the business world...I know in my heart what this relationship was about: clarity in the business environment." He may even believe that.

I recently authored a column: "Eliot Spitzer Leaves The Farm For Wall Street " in which I considered yet another individual whose career arc descended into the abyss, and that figure also was embroiled in a sexual relationship outside his marriage. Frankly, it seems as if we're faced with a pandemic of sexual affairs involving politicians -- if memory serves me correct, in recent years we have had allegations of sexual affairs made against

  • President Bill Clinton,
  • Governor Eliot Spitzer,
  • Governor Mark Sanford,
  • Governor Jim McGreevey,
  • Senator John Ensign,
  • Senator David Vitter,
  • Representative Mark Foley,
  • Representative Vito Fossella,
  • Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick,
  • Mayor Gavin Newsome, and
  • Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
  • and I'm sure that I've missed a number of other public figures, so, go ahead, fill in the blanks.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude. Sex is often as much about power as anything else and some folks are adrenaline junkies. Nonetheless, if it's just about sex, then why won't any of these folks just come out and say it, from day one, when they're caught? Why is it always necessary to drag the humiliated spouse into the glare of the spotlight? Why is your downfall just another opportunity to stage a media event and to deliver a faux-sincere speech about your failure? I mean, seriously, can't one of these jerks just stand before the cameras and say "I wanted to get laid. I got laid. I enjoyed it. I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I'm sorry that I got caught."

All of which leads me back, albeit via a somewhat tortured path, to Mr. Moffat and his explanation in Fortune about his sexual affair with Ms. Chiesi. Frankly, I don't understand Moffat's explanation, the whole clarity in the business environment thing. Is he serious? Of course it was about sex.

When things sound silly, they usually are. When desperate men seek justification for their stupidity, the explanations that they offer to us rarely ring true. Consider Bill Clinton's now infamous January 26, 1998, statement that said, in part:

[I] want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you.

Imagine how much more absurd that same statement would now seem, if the former President offered this version:

[I] want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. Our relationship was about clarity in the business environment. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you.

Perhaps Nietzsche said it better:

"I did that," says my memory. "I could not have done that," says my pride, and remains inexorable. Eventually -- the memory yields.

Aphorism 68, Beyond Good and Evil