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Case Application 1 – Lessons from Lehman brothers: will we ever learn?

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Case Application 1

Lessons from Lehman brothers: will we ever learn? 

In September 15 2008 the famous Lehman Brothers had filed a bankruptcy eighth the United State bankruptcy Court which is located in the South of New York. This is the largest action that can happen in the financial history Chapter 11- unleashed the crisis of confidences that has threw financial markets throughout the world into great turmoil making it the greatest crisis in the history. This fall of the Wall Street is not the only and new one because we have already seen in stories of WorldCom, Enron, and other companies. In the reports made by the bankruptcy chief examiner, it has been seen that both the executive and the auditor of the company were accused for such an action which led the organization to collapse. The report tells that Lehman repeatedly went beyond it line of control and risk limits and the continuous failure of the managements due to their bad calls had led to the failure of the bank’s. Let us look behind what had actually happened on basis of some issues that took place.

Among the various problems in Lehman, the two major problems it’s cultural system and reward system. The risks taken by the employees were fully rewarded with a handsome amount. Employees making not good enough deals were for no reason raised to high and became the heroes of the firm while employees with actual good deals and who questioned unethical activities were not treated well and were ignored. One of such instance is what happened with Oliver Buddie, the association general counsel of the Lehman who served for 9 years. He was responsible for making the organization’s public filings executive compensation. What he felt was that the firm’s intentions under representation on the amount top executives of the firm were paid. He argued about this matter with his bosses for a long period of time but they pretend not to hear and ignored his say. After that later once he objected a tax deal which another firm proposed to lower the medical insurances costs. He personally felt that it was a wrong step and asked his bosses to withdraw it but they just ignored him. His bosses disagreed with him and accepted the deal.  This was one of the examples that the firm’s top managers have done wrong which laid to this pathetic condition of the firm.

As told earlier the leadership of a firm is a very important part of an organization. Lehman has issues with the top leadership of them. Valuka’s reports were highly crucial who said that Lehman’s executives should have worked harder and rather far better. Then he pointed a serious flaw in the leadership. He said that the company’s executives should have worked better and it was because of the executives that the made the matter worse. Their misconduct includes serious wrong judgement on taking business decisions and wrong balance sheet maintenance. This was enough to ruin everything. Richard Fuld the former head executive was another responsible person for the company’s failure who caused Lehman to file a series of misleading period reports. It was a part of Repo 105 an accounting device. This was used to get dollar 50 billion undesirable assets away from the balance sheet in 2008, at its end rather than selling the assets at loss. In the reports of the examiner there was an e-mail from the Lehman group which states the purpose of the Repo 105 transactions which was only mean to reduce from the company’s balance sheet. The auditor of the company was fully aware of this Repo 105 but he did not take any steps and not even said any word on this. All the reports during that time clearly states that Fuld had all knowledge about what was going on but he kept silent and did not question anything. Everything was going on under his eyes. However his attorney clearly stated that Fuld had no idea about what was going on and anything about this transaction, neither did he structured anything nor was evident in this case, he was completely unaware about all this. A spokesman at that time from Ernest & Young stated Lehman’s bankruptcy is the result of series of unrecognized adverse events that took place in the market.

Related Questions

  1. Describe what the situation was of the Lehman on an ethical point of view. Write down what you think actually took place here?
  2. What do you think the cultural atmosphere of the organization was? How this culture of the firm lead to its downfall?
  3. What was the role of the executives of the company that lead to the destruction of the company? Were these executives acted fairly and ethically? Describe.
  4. What are the steps that the company could have taken in order to get rid of this disastrous situation? Write according to your prospective.
  5. After so many acts and law statements why according to you this situations was faced by the Lehmans? Is this unreasonable from businesses to act and work ethically?


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