Morgan Stanley regrets inviting Clinton

 

The chairman of Morgan Stanley, Mr Philip Purcell, has apologised to clients for the "mistake" of giving the former president, Mr Bill Clinton, more than $100,000 to speak at a conference organised by the Wall Street investment firm in Florida last Monday.

Mr Purcell said Morgan Stanley should have taken into account the "strong feelings of our clients over Mr Clinton's personal behaviour as president", and "Mr Clinton's actions in leaving the White House".

The extraordinary apology indicates just how damaging to Mr Clinton is the frenzy of recrimination over his last-minute pardon of the fugitive financier, Mr Marc Rich, and over expensive gifts removed from the White House by the outgoing president and Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mr Clinton's prospects of a lucrative series of speaking engagements is likely to have been diminished by the reaction of Morgan Stanley clients to last week's conference invitation, as other investment firms and big corporations may now think twice before offering a large fee for the former president's speaking services.

A Morgan Stanley spokesman said that the company had received dozens of complaints from clients after reports that Mr Clinton was paid more than $100,000 for his speech, delivered to 1,000 invited guests in Boca Raton. Some of the clients had threatened to take their business elsewhere, the spokesman said.

Mr Purcell responded to the outraged clients with personal emails, saying: "I perfectly understand why you are upset that former President Clinton spoke at one of our conferences. We clearly made a mistake. "First, the decision did not receive the proper review within the firm.

"And second, we should have been far more sensitive to the strong feelings of our clients over Mr Clinton's personal behaviour as President.

"We should have thought twice before the speaking invitation was extended. Our failure to do so was particularly unfortunate in light of Mr Clinton's actions on leaving the White House."

Mr Clinton's pardon to Mr Rich, now living in Switzerland, is the subject of a congressional inquiry. Ms Denise Rich, the former wife of the financier who fled the US to avoid tax-evasion and other charges, has made large contributions to the Clinton presidential library fund, and has refused to appear before the committee.

Mr Clinton is to make his first public speech on March 26th at Salem State College in Massachusetts, for a reported fee of $100,000, put up by corporate sponsors. Meanwhile, the former president has been blocked by a Republican-led Congressional Committee from renting an $811,000-a-year office in the Carnegie Hall Tower in Manhattan, following an outcry over the cost to taxpayers.