Saturday, October 17, 2009

Putting your life in someone else's hands

On Aug. 27, Danielle Chiesi told an unnamed co-conspirator: "I’m dead if this leaks. I really am and my career is over." Hedge Fund Chief Is Charged With Fraud (New York Times, 16 October 2009) via @mikojava

Obviously "this" leaked, together with this statement. I'm not a lawyer, but this looks to me like a pretty clear admission of guilt. In retrospect, perhaps not such a good thing to have said.

So why would someone say something like this at all? Ms Chiesi knew there was a risk that this would leak, presumably thought that drawing attention to this risk would amplify the importance of secrecy, and trusted her co-conspirator in a given environment with this dangerous admission. Her trust was betrayed, either by the co-conspirator or by the environment (eavesdropping).

Under conditions of danger and stress, Ms Chiesi wrongly trusted someone or something. Are there any general lessons we can draw from this?


In the context of an attempted fraud, however, maybe Ms Chiesi's admission of guilt isn't such a bad thing after all. When we are engaged in things we feel uncomfortable about, our unconscious sometimes gives us away, and we may blurt out stuff when it might have been safer to bite the old tongue. (This is related to authenticity.) Ms Chiesi sees to have been insufficiently crooked to carry out this kind of fraud without giving herself away at some point. Or perhaps she had a career deathwish. (Can you trust your unconscious not to betray you? If you are being authentic, then there should be nothing worth betraying.)

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