RF243089Judging from the 70+ reader comments, many from present or former IBM employees, my last column about the arrest of IBM Sr. VP Bob Moffat on insider trading charges hit a nerve.  In a few hours I’ll be posting another column on a completely different topic, but I can’t let this one go without making one more observation.  It has been almost a week since Moffat was arrested and in that time, as far as I can tell, IBM has made no comment on the case to the press or even to its own employees.

Why no comment?  I’ve been wondering that aloud for the last day or two, asking my friends and almost anyone I meet why IBM would be so foolish not to at least issue a press release on the arrest?  After all, the company supposedly cooperated with the SEC investigation.  They should have known the arrest was coming.  Why weren’t they ready with at least some statement reaffirming corporate values or possibly distancing themselves from Moffat?

Doesn’t IBM management owe that to its 398,000 employees?

They removed Moffat’s bio from the IBM web site, but that’s all.

Lack of comment suggests Big Blue doesn’t know what to say.  Perhaps the company is paralyzed. Maybe there is disagreement in the executive ranks about how to handle the problem.  Maybe Moffat, himself, was the guy who would have helped craft any response but now he’s unavailable.  Beats me.

But it doesn’t smell good.

My Mom, who is 85 and, like me, doesn’t own any IBM shares, may have put it to me the best.

“My guess is that this isn’t over,” she predicted.  “IBM could declare him innocent until proven guilty or they could write him off, but the fact they have said nothing at all means there are probably more shoes to fall. They could announce an investigation to ferret out others who made the same mistakes, whether those others exist or not.  And that’s what they would have done, had all the remaining guilt lay below Moffat’s level. But it probably doesn’t. I’d look upstream.”

Mom is a clever girl.