Wall Street Shrugs, Shivers at Boesky Sentence
NEW YORK (AP) _ Many Wall Streeters shrugged off stock speculator Ivan F. Boesky’s three- year prison sentence with a chuckle, but there were shivers in more private financial enclaves over what may lie ahead.
″Boesky was light years ago,″ said Tom Croonquist, a 26-year-old bond broker interviewed in front of the New York Stock Exchange building in lower Manhattan. ″Big things happen down here and they’re forgotten the next day.″
In the shadow of Wall Street skyscrapers bedecked with holiday wreaths and bows, a group of young brokers shouted ″Who cares?″ as they hurried off to lunch in the bitter breeze.
The sentencing on a criminal conspiracy charge Friday came 13 months after Boesky stunned the financial world by paying a record $100 million penalty to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle an insider-trading complaint. He was barred from the securities business for life.
Boesky’s broad cooperation with the government already has implicated several prominent Wall Street professionals and is expected to result in more indictments.
He could have received five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Still, his prison term was the longest meted out so far in the case that has rocked the securities industry for the past year and a half.
An indifferent attitude pervaded many of the financial district’s lunchtime set, more interested in shopping or staying warm than discussing the ex- financier’s fate.
There were arguments over the length of the sentence, and skepticism about the amount of time Boesky actually would spend behind bars. Legally, he must serve one-third of the sentence before being eligible for parole.
″Three years is not enough for a guy who got as greedy as he got,″ Julian Ennis, a tourist from Alabama, said as he reloaded his camera after a tour of the stock exchange.
″For the amount of money involved, it really doesn’t fit the crime,″ said Jesse Davis, 28, who writes computer trading programs.
But one 40-year-old investment banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said one year’s incarceration ″may be a sufficient deterrent″ for shady speculators.
″They need to see it. People have come to accept that you can do business that way as long as you don’t commit a criminal felony - I mean as in harming someone or stealing money. Boesky didn’t hold up a bank, he held up the system,″ the man said.
There was a profound reticence to talk among businessmen who often chat with the press.
At Harry’s, a popular downtown watering hole, dozens of well-clad Wall Streeters cowered behind drinks or turned away when asked what they thought of Boesky’s sentence.
″I’m not saying anything till the rest of it comes out,″ said one of the handful of female patrons in the bar. ″There will be more.″
″If I had been working with him and had a guilty conscience about any of my deals, I’d be nervous,″ said bond trader Croonquist. ″He gave a bad name to the business. He was one of the bad apples out there.″