Ugly capitalist of the year. (And his board enablers.)
Sandra Hatfield and David H. Brooks, co-defendants in a U.S. government trial in which Brooks is accused of fraud, insider trading, and improper business funding of personal extravagances. Those would include the $100,000 jewel-encrusted belt buckle sported above by Brooks, and recently waved by prosecutors in front of a Long Island jury. (U.S. government evidence photo.)
Tough to beat among the contenders for this coveted distinction is David H. Brooks, 55. While CEO of DHB Industries until 2006, Brooks helped push what had been one of America's leading suppliers of body-armor for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan into bankruptcy. (The armor, like that of other body-armor suppliers, was faulted by critics with being insufficiently protective.)
But Brooks, who had a checkered past even before his current courtoom ordeal, was able first to bilk Uncle Sam out of more than $6 million in improper billings for, among other things, plastic surgery for Brooks' wife, a burial plot for his mother, pornographic videos for his son, and prostitutes for employees and board members.
On the latter point, spot any connection between these paragraphs in the NYT account today:
[Brooks'] lawyers also defended the hiring of prostitutes for employees and board members, arguing in court papers that it represented a legitimate business expense 'if Mr. Brooks thought such services could motivate his employees and make them more productive.'
His lawyers pointed to a board resolution that stipulated that Mr. Brooks was entitled to 10 percent of the company’s profits.
It is, of course, common practice among thriving enterprises to have used call girls to extract industry-leading productivity from their workers. For those few dynamic companies forsaking that device - Apple, Hewlett-Packard, McDonald's Corp., Wal-Mart Stores - one can only despair at the even more burgeoning profits forfeited by the investors in those firms.
And, nah, couldn't be a connection between board members who were, uh, serviced by sex-trade workers and the decision by those same directors at CEO Brooks was deserving of a staggering 10% of company profits. A blandishment of that trifling nature wouldn't cloud their judgment a bit...
Alas, there's much more, and worse, here.