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Kozlowski's Statement In Question

Jan 9, 2003 | USA Today

The widow of a former Tyco International director is raising new doubts about ex-CEO Dennis Kozlowski's assertion that he sought board approval for costly bonus and loan programs.

The contradiction could undercut a potential defense argument about corporate authorizations as Kozlowski prepares for trial on charges that he and former Tyco CFO Mark Swartz improperly reaped more than $600 million in loans, bonuses and stock sales.

Kozlowski told The Wall Street Journal in September that the perks had been approved by Philip Hampton, Tyco's former lead director and compensation committee chairman. ''I met with him a few times a week for breakfast, and he took on the role of keeping the board informed,'' Kozlowski told the Journal. ''He told me on a number of occasions he was sending a memorandum to the board.''

But Elaina Hampton, whose husband died of cancer in April 2001, said in brief telephone interviews Tuesday and Wednesday that Kozlowski's account was ''not true at all.''

''I don't think they ever met for breakfast,'' said Hampton, who noted that the home she and her late husband shared is in Naples, Fla., several hours' driving time from Tyco's nearest offices in Boca Raton.

Hampton added that her husband, in general, was forced to remain near Naples between 1997 and his death because he was receiving cancer treatment there. That time period covers five of the nearly seven years cited in the Kozlowski-Swartz indictment.

Hampton declined to be more specific without consulting her attorney. People familiar with the case said she arranged all of her husband's phone calls for months before his death. They also said Tyco aircraft logs do not show Kozlowski trips to meet the former director.

Kozlowski's attorney, Stephen Kaufman, did not reply to messages seeking comment. Efforts to determine whether Kozlowski and Philip Hampton met anywhere other than Naples during the years before Hampton's death were not immediately successful.

Tyco declined to offer official comment. But a person close to the firm said company records contain ''no evidence that these conversations (between Kozlowski and Hampton) took place.''

Elaina Hampton's comments are significant because they appear to undermine a potential Kozlowski defense: that the loans and bonuses, though unusually large, had official sanction.

The indictment accuses Kozlowski of hijacking Tyco corporate relocation and bonus programs to build expensive homes and lavishly reward himself, Swartz and others for the firm's many acquisitions.

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