Bunhill: Prize before a fall

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The Independent Online
MAN of the Year awards invariably prove the kiss of death to the careers of the unlucky winners. Such awards are generally a reliable indicator of who will be falling off their perch in the next 12 months. (The Guardian Young Businessman of the Year award has always proved particularly reliable, having been won by a string of idols, such as John Ashcroft of Coloroll and John Gunn of British & Commonwealth, who swiftly fell from grace thereafter.)

So imagine my delight when I discovered another one last week: the annual Man of the Year chosen from among the employees of Kidder Peabody, the US broking firm.

Over the years, Kidder has revealed a quite breathtaking lack of judgement. Among the chosen ones of the 1980s was Peter Brandt, a successful broker. Shortly after receiving his award, Brandt was led away by the Securities and Exchange Commission for participating in an insider dealing ring centred on a journalist at the Wall Street Journal.

Another Kidder Man of the Year was none other than Marty Siegal, then head of the corporate finance division. Almost immediately, Siegal was caught receiving suitcases full of used greenbacks from a certain Ivan Boesky in return for passing the arbitrageur inside information about Kidder's deals.

Most recently, Kidder's top dealer, Joseph Jett, was singled out for stardom. Soon afterwards he was accused of operating a complex multi-million dollar bond scam. Although he protests his innocence and has not been charged, he is now under investigation by the SEC and the New York Stock Exchange - as, indeed, is everybody else at Kidder Peabody. The case continues.

Meanwhile, I am happy to assure you that Bunhill has never won an award for Diary of the Year.