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In Wake Of Exec “Accidentally” Stabbing A Cab Driver, Morgan Stanley Insists You Ask, “What Would The Post Say?”By Bess Levin
A year ago this Friday, a Morgan Stanley banker named William Bryan Jennings attended a couple holiday parties, drank a few Coors Lights, and around 10:30PM hailed a cab and asked the driver, Helmy Ammar, to take him home to Connecticut. On the way, a hungry WBJ requested they stop at G&G Deli off 10th Avenue, where he bought “a 20 oz. bottle of Aquafina water, a sandwich and some Burger King cheesy fries.” As the cab entered approached Jennings’ hometown of Darien, a dispute reportedly broke out as to what the fare for the ride would be. Ammar claims that they’d agreed on $204 before leaving Manhattan, but once in Connecticut, Jennings said he’d only pay $50. Jennings claims that Ammar jacked the price up to $300 and was unhappy when the banker offered $160. Another matter of he said/he said is whether or not Jennings started shouting racial slurs at Ammar and told him, “I’m going to kill you. You should go back to your country!” (Jennings denies this happened and says that Ammar locked the doors and wouldn’t let him out of the cab.)
The one aspect of the story that is not in dispute is that as tensions flared, WBJ whipped out a pen knife he had in his pocket. For those of you reading from Morgan Stanley, this is where the teachable moments occurs: if you ever find yourself in a situation wherein you’re winding up to stab a cab driver in the hand, stop and ask yourself, “Is this going to look bad in the Post tomorrow morning?” Jennings did not and now this is happening:
[Jennings] was fired in early October, two weeks before the [prosecutors dropped assault and hate-crime charges against him]. A brief letter to him didn’t go into much detail, but Morgan Stanley officials have said Mr. Jennings breached the securities firm’s 22-page code of conduct, according to people familiar with the matter. Now the banker, who goes by “Bryan,” and his former bosses are in a tug of war over millions of dollars in deferred compensation that Mr. Jennings accumulated during his 19-year career at the New York company. Officials at the firm believe it owes him nothing, citing “clawback” provisions that allow the company to withhold or seize pay from employees who hurt Morgan Stanley. Since the financial crisis, Morgan Stanley and other firms have expanded such policies to cover behavior that contributed to outsize losses or reputational harm, rather than just outright fraud or financial misstatements.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman said the firm doesn’t comment on specific instances or individuals but that “the clawback provisions in our compensation model allow us to take action where appropriate.” People close to Mr. Jennings say Morgan Stanley refused to give him a deferred-compensation payment in June and has frozen as much as $5 million or more, depending on how the payout is calculated… Mr. Jennings’s firing was a reminder that embarrassing the company can cost employees as much as poor job performance. “How would my action appear as a headline in tomorrow’s newspaper?” is one of five questions Morgan Stanley employees are told in its code of conduct to “consider…before you act.”
According to the Journal, “the position taken by Morgan Stanley goes all the way to the top, including Chairman and Chief Executive James Gorman and Chief Legal Officer Eric Grossman” and in addition to canning the guy, someone at the bank who apparently specializes in rubbing salt in the wound put his best men on this:
Mr. Jennings is mad that Morgan Stanley left all his personal belongings from the office piled up in boxes in his driveway, people close to him say.
Obviously the question many of you are asking yourselves at this time is, in what matter did WBJ find his stuff: haphazardly strewn all over the place or piled in bankers boxes at the foot of his driveway? In our professional opinions, it was clearly the latter, as stacking them neatly– and acting all, “What? This is standard operating procedure”– seems to strike a much harsher note.* As would putting Jennings’ picture as a footnote to the section about not embarrassing the firm in the company handbook, next to Phil Purcell’s, added as a deterrent for anyone thinking of “violently berating a doorman, spitting in a waitress’s face, telling off a cop, parking in a handicapped space, and killing a hooker” (all in one night).
A Banker’s Costly Ride [WSJ]
Earlier: Morgan Stanley Exec “Accidentally” Stabs Cab Driver After Difference Of Opinion Re: Fare; Morgan Stanley Exec Maintains Innocence Re: Stabbing Cab Driver; Morgan Stanley Exec Who “Accidentally” Stabbed Cab Driver After Difference Of Opinion Re: Fare Gets Off; Morgan Stanley Executive Pretty Pleased To Have Stabbing Charges Dropped
*Don’t be fooled into thinking it was a nice gesture to deliver his stuff– this was clearly done to say, “Here’s your shit. We’ll just leave it at the foot of our driveway, since you don’t have an office anymore.