A notable absence at the meeting of Berkshire

David L. Sokol was treated like a rock star at the annual meeting last year to Berkshire Hathaway,the conglomerate run by Warren E. Buffett. Shareholders lined up to sign autographs and photos of the executive regarded by many as the successor of Mr. Buffett.

Mr. Sokol will not attend the meeting of Berkshire this weekend. He announced his resignation last month after reports emerged suddenly that he had made a profit by buying shares of a company in his own account shortly before Mr. Buffett said he bought the company . .

The sudden drop has come as a surprise to foreigners who had observed Mr. Sokol held in the business world. He helped build a small energy company in Omaha company several billion dollars, sold to Berkshire Hathaway and by all appearances has become a favorite of executives from his boss. Mr. Sokol has served as Mr. Buffett's Mr. FixFix- an artist run confidence to tackle difficult jobs.

But people who worked for Mr. Sokol saw a side of him that Mr. Buffett has perhaps not. His brass-knuckles approach alienated some employees Berkshire, as when he suggested that people with illness or other personal issues were problematic and unceremoniously when he fired a senior officer and made him leave the office this day.

Flashes of his management style can be found in some of the earlier cases as well. In a civil case, a judge reprimanded Mr. Sokol numbers for falsifying his company so that the joint venture partner would be a small gain. In another case, Mr. Sokol continued to determine which employees in a unit of Berkshire were disparaging.

And he angered colleagues by two subsidiaries of Berkshire, Johns Manville and NetJets, by frequently invoking the name of Mr. Buffett to improve its image within the company.

Some people in Berkshire were puzzled about why Mr. Buffett's favored him so much that when he credited Mr. Sokol for a redress of Johns Manville, although the unit's profitability fell sharply after taking over.

Now, Mr. Sokol business is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to two people close to the investigation who would speak only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly . . So, the question of what Mr. Buffett has seen Mr. Sokol - and why he has publicly supported - will surely be a persistent topic of conversation this weekend in Omaha, at generally known as jubilant Woodstock of capitalism.

questions shareholders may cast a shadow over the case of spirit they consider the conduct of Mr. Sokol, who was already wealthy and was about to execute one of the most respected companies in America. "The reasons behind the actions Sokol is a mystery," said Whitney Tilson, fund manager and longtime shareholder of Berkshire.

"At the very least, he has exercised very bad decision."

Mr. Sokol said he had resigned to concentrate on the investments of the family and that stocks were a good investment for his family that he would again. He did not respond to questions sent by e-mail or phone messages for this article.

In some ways, Mr. Buffett and Mr. Sokol seem to share many similarities, suggesting an easy familiarity.

They were both born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska and still reside there. Each man credits their jobs early as newspaper delivery boys and grocery clerks, with the introduction of a strong work ethic. Their writings are filled with cases of homespun aphorisms.

But there are marked differences as well.

Mr. Buffett, one of the richest men in America according to Forbes magazine, owns a house he bought in 1958 for $ 31,500.

Mr. Sokol collects houses, one near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the town of upmarket skiresort and a beach house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he docks his boat.

Although Mr. Buffett is a homebody whose favorite leisure pursuit is to play bridge on his computer, Mr. Sokol's passion is hunting. Last month, he went hunting in New Zealand.

They also have different opinions of investment banks. Mr. Buffett hasfrequent potshots at them and boasts of striking deals with billions of dollars without the help of advisers.

During his stay in Berkshire, Mr. Sokol relished his relationship with Wall Street. He frequently flew to New York for a series of meetings with bankers pitching deals.

Last year, one of these discussions bore fruit. A meeting with bankers from Citigroup led Berkshire to $ 9 billion acquisition of Lubrizol, a chemical company.