A Baseball Odyssey

''I want to make sure the game stays alive in Greece after the Games,'' says former chief financial officer Bill Galatis.
CFO StaffSeptember 1, 2004

The end of the Athens Games also marked the end of a peculiar six-year-long Olympic dream for former CFO and now restaurateur Bill Galatis: to play for the Greek baseball team. But another dream lives on. “I want to make sure the game stays alive in Greece after the Games,” says the 51-year-old owner of Meze Estiatorio, in Charlestown, Mass.

Galatis’s odyssey began in 1998, when he saw an article in a Greek newspaper seeking Greek-American players for the 2004 Olympics. Olympic rules allow the host nation to compete without having to pass global qualifying rounds — in which the United States was eliminated. The rules also let countries recruit athletes from among foreign-born grandchildren of citizens.

Since baseball was not played in Greece, Greek-American baseball enthusiasts were trying to build a team around qualified U.S. players. Galatis wanted to not only play for the team but also write a business plan for it.

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“I was realistic enough to know I couldn’t compete against guys half my age,” he says. But when it came to organization, “being older provided an edge.”

Using Greek-American players proved a Herculean effort in itself: for instance, recruits had to gain dual citizenship, then win waivers from Greece’s military-service requirement. Among the leaders of the group was Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who welcomed Galatis’s help.

Galatis did get a glimpse of glory, playing in a 2001 Athens all-star game with aspiring Olympians. An amateur catcher since Little League, he says, “I’ve got pretty good game-calling and defensive skills.” Catching in the Olympics remained a long shot, though.

And, alas, in the weeks before the torch was lit in Greece, his chances faded. For one thing, controversy arose over how few native-Greek players had made the team. For another, the Greek national squad had improved — leading some to think it might even have a shot at the bronze, behind powerhouses Cuba and Japan.

So, as the Games neared, Galatis was prepared to “catch” the competition from the sidelines — although he packed his catcher’s gear “just in case.” —Roy Harris

Don’t Blame Cheney

Finance employees are facing off in a newly filed complaint against Halliburton Co. Although the embattled energy and construction company recently paid $7.5 million to settle an SEC charge that it had failed to disclose a 1998 accounting change, Houston-based Halliburton is not yet in the clear. Four former finance employees are trying to attach a new complaint in a class-action suit in U.S. Federal Court in Dallas, charging “serial accounting fraud.”

The filing names current Halliburton chairman and CEO David Lesar as well as former CFO Douglas Foshee, now CEO of El Paso Corp.; Gary Morris, also a former CFO; and former controller Robert Muchmore Jr. as perpetrators of the alleged fraud, which the complaint says included underreporting of expenses, overreporting of revenues, and failure to disclose the outcome of an asbestos-related lawsuit. Lesar, Morris, and Muchmore worked under Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as CEO from 1995 to 2000. Cheney is not named in the suit, which concerns the years 1998-2001.

Scott and Scott LLC, one of the law firms involved in the original complaint, is asking to expand the existing suit, which Halliburton had preliminarily settled for $6 million in June. David R. Scott, managing partner at Scott and Scott, claims that Halliburton “caused hundreds of millions of dollars more in damages than has previously been alleged.” Scott says testimony from the four former finance employees supports this claim.

Halliburton’s director of public relations, Wendy Hall, vehemently denounces the new filing. “It is virtually a recycled lawsuit,” says Hall. Scott denies the charge. “They are settling a case that involves the same allegations that were raised in the SEC compliant as well as some additional violations, for $1.5 million less than the SEC fine,” he says.

Action on the case may be delayed, as the judge has rescued himself after discovering that the held Halliburton stock during the period under review. —Kate O’Sullivan

CFOs on the Move

Michael McGrath begins his second stint as CFO of management and technology consultancy Accenture Ltd., filling the role after Harry You resigned to become finance chief at Oracle Corp…. Michael McDonnell will leave his post as finance chief at EchoStar Communications Corp. to become the new CFO at MCG Capital Corp., an investment firm in Arlington, Va…. Joe Kaeser, formerly at Siemens’s IC Mobile Group, will become the new head of Siemens AG’s corporate-strategies department on October 1.