E-mails have a wonderful habit of coming back and biting you on the rear-end.
Here we look at a few classics that the senders would probably take back if they could (or at least their firms would take back if they could).
Frank Quattrone was convicted on obstruction of justice charges a few years back (although the case against him was eventually overturned). His problems were all down to a 22 word e-mail.
Quattrone responded to a suggestion from a member of the firm's legal team that his Credit Suisse unit staff delete e-mail evidence by pointing out to his subordinates: 'having been a key witness in a securities litigation case in south texas (miniscribe) I strongly advise you to follow these procedures'. That was enough to get Quattrone years of legal problems and aggro.
And many of the 'e-mails they'd like you to forget' were sent by equity analysts.
Aside from former Merrill Lynch internet stock analyst Henry Blodget, who once privately described a stock he was publicly pushing as 'a piece of s..t', here are some other gems which appeared in the press a few years back:
'If I so much as hear one more f.....g peep out of them, we will put the proper rating...on the stock'. (Citigroup)
'If you can't say something positive, don't say anything at all'. (CSFB)
'Question 'What's so interesting about GoTo except investment banking fees ?' Answer - 'Nothin'' (Merrill Lynch)
'Triangle is a very important client. We could not go out with a big research call trashing their lead product'. (UBS)
'For the record, I have attempted to downgrade RSL THREE times over the last year but have been held off for banking reasons each time'. (Lehman)
'I can't believe what a POS that thing is. Shame on me/us for giving them any benefit of the doubt'. (Merrill)
While on the subject of stock analysts, it would be remiss not to mention former Citigroup man Jack Grubman. Former New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer released 'report cards' on Grubman. These were compiled by some of Citigroup's own brokers and investment bankers.
Here's a selection of what Grubman's colleagues allegedly said about him:
'Not all four letter words are bad ones. Perhaps some of the analysts, like Grubman, should consider this one: SELL'.
'A monkey could pick better stocks than he could'.
'Please do not fire Jack. He is my No.1 indicator - I do exactly what he says not to'.
Standard & Poor's Staffers
'Ratings agencies continue to create an even bigger monster - the CDO market. Let's hope we are all retired by the time this house of cards falters'.
'Screwing with criteria to 'get the deal' is putting the entire S&P franchise at risk - it's a bad idea'.
Bear Stearns Hedge Funds
Bear hedge fund manager Matthew Tannin sent the e-mail below to his boss, Ralph Cioffi, in April 2007- months before two Bear hedge funds collapsed. Prosecutors used it to bolster their case that the two men had committed fraud.
'The supbrime market looks pretty damn ugly ... If we believe the (report) is ANYWHERE CLOSE to accurate I think we should close the funds now....the reason for this is that if (the report) is correct then the entire subprime market is toast'.
The matter ended up in court, and all over the front pages. In the end, and after a lot of aggro, both fund managers were found not guilty by a New York jury.
Goldman Sachs & 'Fabulous Fab'
'More and more leverage in the system', starts one e-mail Goldman banker Fabrice Tourre sent to a friend in January 2007, 'The whole building is about to collapse anytime now....Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab....standing in the middle of these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all the implications of those monstruosities (sic)!!!'.
He is is also said to have e-mailed the head of Goldman's structured product correlation desk a month later, saying: 'The CDO biz is dead. we don't have a lot of time left'.
So,be careful what you say in e-mails. They may not prove wrongdoing, but they could get you in a lot of trouble. You have been warned!