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The Sheep and the Guardians: Diary of a SEC Sanctioned Swindle Paperback – June 4, 2009
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As is typical in corporate bankruptcies, Syntax-Brillian's stock became worthless. One of the unfortunate souls left holding shares in the company when the music stopped was Ahmed Amr, a middle-aged man who (as he explains in "The Sheep") had invested his entire life savings in Syntax-Brillian. When the company failed, he and several other stockholders launched a shoestring crusade against the directors, executives, and anyone else they thought was to blame.
Amr's role in the crusade is one part of what this book is about. He's actually a good writer: When he sticks to his personal experiences, such as getting robbed while a teenager, or spending the night in a rental car because he couldn't afford a hotel, he's able to draw the reader in effortlessly. Those and a few other fine passages show that Amr had the potential to write an interesting 100-200 page memoir about his own financial disaster and the other mom-and-pop stockholders he met during his odyssey through various branches of the justice system.
Unfortunately, however, Amr does not focus on those human-interest subjects. Instead, he spends page after page after page attempting to expose not only the real fraud committed by Syntax-Brillian's senior management--which he helped to uncover--but also the supposed corruption he claims to see in the federal courts and regulatory agencies. There's a lot of repetition, a lot of confusing jumps back and forth in time, and when it comes to his more far-fetched accusations, a lot smoke without any fire.
Maybe Amr's overly suspicious attitude is understandable, given that the collapse of Syntax-Brillian wiped him out. If there's any lesson for the general reader to take away from this book, it's don't put all your eggs in one basket. Amr tells us that he has a degree in economics; he's obviously a smart guy and not lazy. It was therefore sad to read that he (and various others of similar acumen) had invested everything in this one company. As his experience teaches us, that is a recipe for disaster.
It is a complex web of deceit and intrigue, yet Ahmed Amr spins an engaging and compelling story. While his book points to a corporate and securities culture so corrupt and a regulatory system so broken, he ultimately gives hope that together--through activism--we can fix the system before it's too late.
The sad part was that, in order to do what they did, the Taiwanese conspirators needed help (and got it) from entities and persons here in the US. Not only did the Taiwanese conspirators expect to bilk investors and make much more money than they ever would have running a legitimate business, once this round was over they planned on coming back for more (the OIG stalking horse buyer). There was a selfish motive for filing this bankruptcy in the manner in which it was filed as opposed to another manner that would have been more honest.
The next chapters are still being written (as of 12/30/09).
This is a search for justice in legal system that only can be won by the average citizen (non lawyers).