Wall Street Rogues

Fast cars, women, and cash. These financial whizzes had it all. But some of them crossed the line to get rich and ended up serving hard time, creating scandals that continue to affect the black investment community.

Kidder. In the end, Jett won and Kidder was sold off to PaineWebber. In August 1998, a second case brought by the SEC again cleared Jett of fraud, but he was sanctioned by that body for record-keeping violations and was ordered to pay back more than $8 million. “My [former] managers aren’t sophisticated enough technically to understand what I am doing, and it’s probably one of [the] few occurrences in American history where white men stand up and say a black man is too smart for them,” says Jett. “The Securities and Exchange Commission went out of their way to find a judge who had no background in mathematics, no background in business. She didn’t understand the math and so she followed the General Electric argument to the letter. … I would say that she also said I didn’t commit fraud, but she said that there were books and records violations and therefore wanted me to pay a $200,000 fine.”

While the SEC would not comment on the Jett proceedings, officials referred to the March 5, 2004, Opinion of the Commission, which states that Jett has not shown that racial discrimination occurred. The document also states that the law judge’s decision makes clear that she “examined the record for, and did not find, evidence of discriminatory treatment in the firm’s dealings with him that would bear on its approval or knowledge of the forward recon strategy.” The SEC also goes on to state that the discrimination claims Jett makes were vague and unsubstantiated.

Jett says he’s still waiting for resolution for a case that will probably end up going to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. While the decade-long battle continues, Jett seeks to pick up the pieces and repair his shattered reputation. He currently manages an offshore hedge fund, the value of which Jett wouldn’t disclose. Though he is optimistic about the future, it remains to be seen if this once-bright star can recapture his former luster.

Despite his own troubles, Jett, who was classmates with Bond at Harvard Business School and Ingram at MIT, says it was devastating to see what happened to both of them. “Bu
t, one must understand that there are two standards of laws in this country,” says Jett. “There is a standard of law where if you are white, you get away with it. If you are black, you end up in jail. … You talk about Alan Bond cherry-picking. Let’s look at Jack Welch [former CEO of GE] taking a corporate jet, boondoggles everywhere, apartments paid for.…He gets away with all of it.”

But the actions of Bond and others irreparably damaged a number of investors’ nest eggs as well as had an adverse impact on African Americans on the Street, particularly the black-owned investment firms. Christopher Williams, CEO of Williams Capital Group L.P. (No. 1 on the BE INVESTMENT BANKS list with $126.3 billion in total managed issues), says while there are charges against African Americans, there are people of other races who have faced

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