Nearly a year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a failure that triggered the global economic crisis, the much-lambasted chief executive Richard Fuld seemed burdened — but not crushed — by the pressure of the upcoming annivesary.
“You know what, the anniversary’s coming up,” he told Reuters. “I’ve been pummeled, I’ve been dumped on, and it’s all going to happen again. I can handle it. You know what, let them line up.”
Fuld, a nearly 40-year veteran of the company, took Lehman’s reins in 1994 at one of its darkest hours and rebuilt it into the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, a Wall Street powerhouse whose massively profitable mortgage banking machine inspired rivals’ envy.
But after filing the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Fuld was vilified and humiliated before a Congressional panel last October and named in nearly 40 different legal actions.
Opinions are still divided over his role in the disaster, but he doesn’t see the point of speaking out: “Nobody wants to hear it. The facts are out there. Nobody wants to hear it, especially not from me.”
Is he the scapegoat of a massive systemic failure on Wall Street, or does he deserve to be a central villain in the collapse?