Grasso Vows He Won’t Settle NYSE Compensation Suit

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Richard Grasso ruled out settling the lawsuit that seeks to recover most of the $190 million he received as chairman and chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange because his reputation is at stake.

“In any litigation, settlement is an expediency, but in litigation where your good name is involved, you never pursue a settlement,” Mr. Grasso said in an interview today. “I put the odds at one in 100,000 at this point.”

Mr. Grasso said the suit, filed on behalf of the NYSE by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, has prevented him from re-entering the workforce. Mr. Spitzer sued Mr. Grasso in May 2004, eight months after he was ousted as chairman of the NYSE. He claimed Mr. Grasso’s pay was excessive under laws governing non-profit organizations, such as the NYSE.

For the past two years, lawyers in the suit have gathered more than a million pages of documents from the NYSE and obtained testimony from 60 executives, and board members, including Henry Paulson, the former chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., who was named American Treasury Secretary in July.

A trial, which will be decided by New York State Supreme Court Judge Charles Ramos, is scheduled for Oct. 16. Mr. Grasso appealed Mr. Ramos’ decision to proceed without a jury in considering some of Mr. Spitzer’s claims.

Mr. Spitzer’s term as Attorney General ends in December. He’s currently seeking the Democratic nomination for New York governor, which will be decided September 12. The general election will be held November 7.

Mr. Grasso said in the interview that his pay was properly approved by the NYSE’s board. He described how he always accepted the compensation he was offered and never asked for more.

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