L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former chief executive of Tyco International, did not have the authority to grant a $17 million bonus for the company’s general counsel, Mark A. Belnick, according to testimony yesterday from a former director.
Prosecutors say Mr. Belnick, 57, received the bonus and millions more in no-interest loans for covering up misconduct by Mr. Kozlowski. Mr. Belnick’s lawyers say the bonus was a reward for heading off an inquiry into Tyco’s accounting practices by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The former director, John Fort, was cross-examined by Mr. Belnick’s lawyer, Reid Weingarten, in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Mr. Fort said Mr. Kozlowski was allowed to spend up to $200 million on corporate acquisitions without clearing them with the board. Mr. Fort also said that the board’s compensation committee had the final say on matters of executive pay.
“Is it your position that Kozlowski could buy a company for $200 million on his own and he couldn’t authorize a bonus?” Mr. Weingarten asked him. “Absolutely,” Mr. Fort said.
Mr. Belnick is charged with grand larceny, stock fraud and falsifying business records.
Earlier yesterday, Mr. Fort, who is also a former Tyco chief executive, testified that the company did not tell regulators about loans that officers received for moving. Prosecutors say Mr. Belnick borrowed almost $15 million and used most of it to build a home in Park City, Utah. Tyco had no corporate offices in Utah. Mr. Belnick was fired in June 2002.
Mr. Fort said such relocation loans were not reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission when he led the company from 1982 to 1992.
“They did not need to be reported because they were in the ordinary course of business, correct?” Mr. Weingarten asked.
“I believe so,” Mr. Fort said.
Mr. Belnick is accused of failing to disclose the no-interest relocation loans. Prosecutors say the loans went beyond their stated purpose and should have been reported.