crimeandpunishment

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT - REALITY AND FANTASY

Thomas Middelhoff

Ex-Chief of Bertelsmann and former
New York Times director

In Recent News

In the dour environs of German executive suites, Thomas Middelhoff always stood out. In a nation of engineers, he was a deal maker, a salesman and a digital prophet who tried to turn the staid media giant Bertelsmann into an Internet company.

 

But Mr. Middelhoff was also someone who relished the trappings of a media mogul, of waking up in the German provinces, flying by private jet to Cannes, France, for a meeting and then flying back again. When circumstances forced him to live less large, his downfall seemed to have been set in motion.

Business Week | November 14. 2014 | JACK EWING

Living Large – and Bill it to the Company

The Accused

Thomas Middelhoff
Ex-Chief of Bertelsmann and former New York Times director

Thomas Middelhoff

Ex-Chief of Bertelsmann and former
New York Times director

The Crime

Middelhoff was accused of taking private trips and charters, all on Arcandor’s dime. His wife defended Middelhoff against the allocations stating, “he worked constantly and frequently interrupted vacations to attend to Arcandor business.”

Arcandor, a financial holdings company located in Essen Germany, was founded in 1920 and has annual sales of 15.5B Euro. Middlehoff also ordered a pricey makeover of the Arcandor executive offices, a faux pas in Germany – as they prefer simplicity in German business.

Business Week | November 14. 2014 | JACK EWING

Real Punishment

Middlehoff received a 3-year prison sentence for 27 counts of embezzlement, totaling $996,000. In early 2014, he was removed from his seat as director at The New York Times Company.

The law in our hands

Ah yes, another executive who lives high at the expense of others and fails to deliver on grand promises.  This sort of behavior not only often goes unpunished, but is actually often rewarded. So to see Mr. Middlehoff actually sentenced to jail is a little encouraging. And even if he only serves two years or less, that may be enough to teach him, and perhaps some others, that you don’t have to live large to create value. 

In Recent News

In the dour environs of German executive suites, Thomas Middelhoff always stood out. In a nation of engineers, he was a deal maker, a salesman and a digital prophet who tried to turn the staid media giant Bertelsmann into an Internet company.

 

But Mr. Middelhoff was also someone who relished the trappings of a media mogul, of waking up in the German provinces, flying by private jet to Cannes, France, for a meeting and then flying back again. When circumstances forced him to live less large, his downfall seemed to have been set in motion.

Business Week | November 14. 2014 | JACK EWING
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