Boots Asensio's Brokerage
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Manic Deception: Sold
Sold Short is Manuel Asensio's life on videotape. But he's not content to simply replay the good parts and cut out what he doesn't like. When necessary to promote his carefully crafted image as fraudbuster, he feels free to splice in someone else's story. Or substitute some fraud of his own.
deception begins early . . . in the acknowledgments, actually. Asensio
pays tribute to the late Judy Stone, a physician who worked for one of his
clients. But he describes her only as a "professional investor,"
making no mention of her affiliation with the Quilcap hedge fund. This allows
him to acknowledge the analyses she prepared for him without the
reader realizing what it means. It means that Asensio publishes clients' critiques about their problem short picks under his own name--presumably to create a veneer of independence.
Which is about the last thing you'd expect from someone who professes a commitment to "uncovering deception."
The reader is left believing that the court saga ended there. But it didn't. Once again, Asensio has simply cut out the part he didn't like: the client's successful appeal, which left him the loser. The final judgment reads:
Needless to say, Asensio's replay of his life's events includes no mention of the $250,000 jury verdict against him for defrauding and deceiving yet another client. No, rather than include any hint of the Norman Murphys in his closet, he instead serenades us with the vow of honor he claims to have taken in the wake of his battle with Therapeutic:
The bright line between truth and lies is apparently another story.
The Spin Never Stops
After serving up a fairy tale version of his career before ACI, Asensio offers several chapters devoted to some of his better-known "picks." The story of each is replayed in excruciating detail . . . right down to the time of day that he issued particular commentaries. You'd think with this sort of attention to minutiae, Asensio would have included some of the major details--such as how his clients shorted some of these stocks first, then came to him when prices went up rather than down. Or how clients helped him write the script on several of the picks. Or the harassment that he visited upon some of his targets and their associates. But he says nothing about any of this . . . not a word about his hedge fund clients and his close working relationship with them. This is indeed strange for a man who admitted, under oath, that he, West Highland Capital, and Quilcap "worked closely together" . . . "on everything" related to his campaign against one of these companies.
Equally strange is how different Asensio sounds from the loose cannon who floods newswires with
finger-pointing tirades. He is noticeably more restrained here. He acknowledges,
for instance, that General Nutrition was not a fraud, but a
company with real value. Similarly, he admits that Biovail did well after
far cry from the Asensio whose website blatantly
deceives by showing the stock losing 48% of its value after his attack.
It did not.
Short on Logic
of the biggest surprises in Sold Short is how little of the book focuses
on the how-to of short-selling. There is but one brief chapter on the
subject. Most, if not all, of its contents can probably be found on the Internet.
This is bound to disappoint anyone expecting a book with novel advice on investing.
The ultimate example of Asensio's inability to grasp that he is, at best, no holier than anyone else on Wall Street comes on the final page of the book. In his parting advice to the reader, he warns:
other words, they may be just like him.