We’ve implemented asset protection planning for a variety of CEOs and executives for many years. Some of these clients are highly compensated executive employees of public or private corporations, others are the owners (and hence the executives) of their own closely held businesses. Given the social and economic climate of the last few years and the negative way their success has often been viewed, we’ve warned them about the executive witch hunt currently in play in the United States.
The link below is to an article that outlines the SEC’s new area of enforcement interest: taking action for corporate against individuals who violate securities laws rather than the companies where they work.
Why? Well someone has to be held liable, whether they have any actual fault or not. Breaking an individual with lawsuit and criminal charges is much easier than breaking a well-connected corporation with bottomless pockets and roster of paid-for political allies.
If you’re an C-level executive like a CEO, CMO, CFO, CIO, etc. or even a corporate board member, the lesson is the same one I’ve been preaching for years:
YOU are responsible for protecting yourself and you need to act today. Being right, or good, or honest is no longer enough to keep yourself out of harm’s way, nor is a reliance on your friends inside the company or the perceived value you think you bring to the table.
In my experience, almost no one is too big to be the patsy when things go sideways. CEOs need three things to survive; a good asset protection plan, a great D&O insurance policy and a clear conscience.
SEC to shift enforcement focus to individuals, White says
The new method: From the person to the firm rather than the firm to the person