Ex-Tyco GC Talks About His Post-Scandal Life and Career
Mark Belnick, the former general counsel of Tyco International Ltd., continues to rebuild his life following the 2002 scandal that shook the company and cost him his jobeven as Mark Swartz, the ex-chief finance officer and current prison inmate, sues Tyco for $60 million in what he says are promised severance benefits.
Swartz, currently serving 8-1/3 to 25 years in prison for looting the company of millions of dollars, filed suit May 4 for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. He claims the company owed him at least $48 million from an executive retirement agreement, as well as $9 million in reimbursement for taxes.
The former CFO was convicted of grand larceny and securities fraud in June 2005, along with former CEO Dennis Kozlowski, whos serving the same sentence. Kozlowski previously lost a similar suit seeking severance. The two men were accused of stealing some $150 million.
But Belnick, the ex-GC, was tried separately and was acquitted of all charges that he played a role in the fraud. In court, the defense's strategy centered on Belnick himself, cast as an honest lawyer and outsider who met active hostility from other Tyco executives and board members, according to the New York Law Journal.
Reached Monday in Los Angeles, Belnick said that after his acquittal, he was able to negotiate a separation agreement with the company. But Im pretty sure both sides agreed to keep the terms confidential, he said, declining to disclose the amount he received.
Since his acquittal in July 2004, Belnick said he has been doing just fine. He opened a private law practice in Manhattan, and is a visiting lecturer in politics at Princeton University in New Jersey.
He said he is now bicoastal, and hopes soon to be teaching at a law school in the Los Angeles area.
Before he took the Tyco job, Belnick was a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York City. He gained national acclaim in the 1980s when he helped lead the U.S. Senate investigation of the Iran-Contra affair.
Asked what he thought of Swartzs chances of winning his severance suit, Belnick declined comment.
The suit was filed by Michael Grudberg and James Mitchell, partners at the New York law firm Stillman & Friedman.
The suit alleges that the Tyco board of directors knew at the time it agreed to a severance package with Swartz that he would soon be indicted for stealing from the company.
No party was misled. Mr. Swartz has timely made court-ordered restitution to Tyco of all amounts he was determined to have improperly received, the suit states.
But several board members were replaced during investigation of the scandal, and apparently the new board refused to pay. The company has declined comment.
Meanwhile the New York Parole Board last month refused to grant Kozlowski, the ex-CEO, an early parole. He can come before the board again in two years.