TYCO HONCHO'S 20G GIFT 'EYE'Jan 21, 2004 | New York Post
Spendaholic Tyco honcho Dennis Kozlowski spent $20,000 in company money to buy the perfect engagement present for a very loyal stock analyst, Manhattan jurors heard yesterday $20,000 worth of private-eye time, for a thorough background check on the analyst's bride-to-be.
The highly unusual gift is the latest in a long list of allegedly illegal company spending by Kozlowski, who prosecutors say stole $600 million through unauthorized perks and stock fraud.
Jurors in the 3-month-old embezzlement trial have already heard about a costly case of champagne Kozlowski sent to the analyst again on the company dime.
The bubbly bespoke a big breach of Wall Street ethics because it's an analyst's job to give objective advice on which companies' stocks are worth buying or dumping.
Yesterday, jurors heard of a still more lavish gift Kozlowski gave to the analyst, Phua Young, a tireless cheerleader for Tyco stock until his employer, Merrill Lynch, fired him because it believed he was too cozy with the company.
Word of the gift was given in testimony by former Tyco spokesman and investor-relations head Brad McGee.
He told jurors of an e-mail he got from Young about three years ago in which the analyst asked him which detective firm Tyco uses to investigate prospective executive hires.
Young had impregnated a woman from Singapore, and wanted to get to know her a little better before marrying her.
On hearing of Young's inquiry, Kozlowski insisted that Tyco's favored firm, Kroll Associates, do the digging, McGee said. The $20,000 cost of the investigation was charged as a company expense, McGee said.
The private eyes apparently found nothing hugely amiss, and the pair married, accepting Kozlowski's case of champagne as a wedding gift.
Young remains under investigation by the National Association of Securities Dealers for these and related improprieties.
The analyst allegedly urged investors to buy Tyco stock at the same time he worried in private e-mails that the stock was tanking, according to NASD charges.