Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Grasso pledges to file own suit

Former NYSE chief says state tarred his name

By Michael J. Martinez
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Former New York Stock Exchange chief Richard A. Grasso is undaunted by the state attorney general's lawsuit over his $187.5 million compensation package.

Grasso promised Tuesday to countersue the exchange and its interim chairman for unpaid portions of his pay package as well as for "besmirching" his name.

In a 1,500-word op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, the former chairman and chief executive of the exchange said any damages awarded in his countersuit would be donated to charity. Grasso will also seek damages from the NYSE and interim chairman John Reed for "the (media) leaks orchestrated by Mr. Reed."

"I will derive considerable pleasure knowing that some public good ultimately resulted because of the immoral and dishonest behavior of those who forced my departure and besmirched my name," Grasso wrote. "Those who thought they could break me with their repeated media leaks badly underestimated my character and resolve. I look forward to addressing them in court where they can no longer hide behind (Attorney General Eliot) Spitzer's cloak."

Spitzer filed suit Monday against Grasso, the exchange, and former director Kenneth G. Langone, who headed the NYSE's compensation committee when Grasso received his biggest payouts.

Spitzer is seeking the return of at least $100 million from Grasso, and another $18 million from Langone - the amount Langone is accused of hiding from the rest of the board of directors on behalf of Grasso.

Grasso resigned in September, one month after the board approved his compensation package.

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