In a taped interview with our Becky Quick after facing hours of questioning from Berkshire Hathaway shareholders today in Omaha, Buffett says, "I wouldn't have written the press release that way."
The release started out with several paragraphs praising Sokol's "extraordinary" contributions to Berkshire, prompting critics to question why he wasn't more "ruthless" with someone who would be hurting the company's reputation.
Buffett says he thought people would see the release he did write as very "damning" because it also included details of Sokol's Lubrizol trades.
Buffett tells us that right after it was issued, Berkshire handed over details to the SEC.
Buffett's release said, "Neither Dave nor I feel his Lubrizol purchases were in any way unlawful."In a statement late today, Sokol lawyer Barry Levine says his client is "deeply saddened" that Buffett "would disparage him as he has done today" and again maintained that Sokol never broke the law or any Berkshire policy.
Levine writes, "It is alarming that Mr. Buffett would be advised to so completely flip-flop and resort to transparent scapegoatism... After 11 years of dedicated and hugely successful service to various Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries, Mr. Sokol would have expected to be treated fairly. That would have been in Berkshire's interest."
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