Lehman's ex-CFO Callan on short seller EinhornMarch 24, 2010: 10:26 AM ET
by Patricia Sellers
The latest on the probes into Lehman Brothers (BCS): Fox Business Network's Charlie Gasparino reports that the House Financial Services Committee is weighing the idea of calling short seller David Einhorn as a public witness or to a private meeting to talk about accounting gimmickry that led to Lehman's bankruptcy. I reached Einhorn's spokesman, who declines to comment.
Whether or not Einhorn, who was Lehman's biggest and loudest critic, is summoned to Washington, it's worth reviewing what former Lehman CFO Erin Callan had to say about the guy. You can get the full lowdown in my Erin Callan profile in the current issue of Fortune. But if you want more on this dysfunctional duo, check out this excerpt below from the last interview that Callan did with the press. My colleague Katie Benner interviewed her at Credit Suisse (CS), where she landed after losing her Lehman post, in September 2008, the very week that Lehman filed the largest bankruptcy in history. Here, Callan (who is mentioned throughout the recently released 2,200-page bankruptcy examiner's report on Lehman's collapse) is talking about the decision to talk one-on-one with Einhorn about the firm's financials. That decision proved disastrous since Einhorn used what she told him to publicly skewer Lehman in general and her, the firm's telegenic CFO, specifically.
Callan: "That whole thing with Einhorn...The firm asked me to do it. I knew it was a mistake, thought we shouldn't do it, but I had to do what I was told. I was the CFO I had to do what I was told by the CEO.
It's so interesting to me that it got turned into a thing between him and me because I was probably the only one on our management team who was totally unemotional about it. We have other things to do here than worry about this guy. We have to worry about our business. It was the most photogenic battle the press has had. We couldn't help ourselves.
I remember waking up...and put on CNBC, and there are people talking about it. They're saying, "Well, I think Erin Callan is more likeable than David Einhorn. I think she's more likeable. I can't believe it. What is happening? These people are taking about whether they like me or not on CNBC, and I don't even know them?"