Business: The High Price of Illegal Gifts

On Feb. 11, 1974, the four outside directors of the 3M Co., including two former Cabinet members —onetime Treasury Secretary Joseph Barr and former Commerce Secretary Peter Peterson —summoned the company's president to an urgent meeting. Barr put a startling question to him:

"If we ask for the resignation of your chairman, the chairman of your finance committee, the chief financial officer and possibly your general counsel, can you hold the company together?"

Raymond Herzog, the president, looked grim. "I don 't think so, " he replied. "Even if I could do so, " he added, "it would be only with great difficulty....

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