Buffett discusses former aide's ouster

April 30, 2011 at 7:04 PM

OMAHA, April 30 (UPI) -- Warren Buffett told shareholders Saturday at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting in Omaha his ex-lieutenant committed "inexcusable" insider trading.

The resignation a month ago of David Sokol, who led Berkshire Hathaway's MidAmerica Energy division, and questions about Berkshire's reinsurance business in the wake of recent disasters put a damper on the meeting, The New York Times reported. Buffett predicted a loss in insurance operations.

Reporters questioned Buffett about Sokol, who was ousted after he bought shares of the chemical company Lubrizol before suggesting Berkshire make it a takeover target. Buffett said the company has forwarded information to the Securities and Exchange Commission and also chastised himself for not getting more information from Sokol about his Lubrizol investment.

"I don't think there's any question about the inexcusable part," Buffett said. "He violated the code of ethics. He violated our insider trading rules. He violated the principles I lay out every two years."

Buffett, 80, has no clear successor as head of Berkshire Hathaway. He said his son, Howard, will become the unpaid chairman and that he would bet the unnamed leading candidate for chief executive is "straight as an arrow."

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