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Thursday, June 23, 2005|
Ex-MassMutual CEO Plans to Fight
Ex-MassMutual CEO Robert O'Connell plans to fight his official dismissal from the insurance company through arbitration, reports the Associated Press. O'Connell's move was in response to a unanimous vote by MassMutual's board of directors to give the already fired chief executive officer Robert O'Connell an official pink slip.
The board voted to terminate O'Connell with "cause," citing a "systematic and pervasive pattern of willful abuse of authority, violations of the Company's code of conduct, and other acts of willful gross misconduct."
The Associated Press reported that O'Connell met with the board before they took their vote to plead his case. Despite vehement assertions that the charges of misconduct were unsubstantiated, the directors voted unanimously to boot O'Connell.
"I spent this morning expressing to the board my personal dissatisfaction and problems with the entire process which was so unfair," Reuters reported O'Connell as saying. "I also have expressed to them the view that virtually every charge they made is unsubstantiated and I told them and they know that I expect to take the entire process through arbitration."
"And I truly expect some of them will be changing their minds in the process," said O'Connell.
While some details of O'Connell's misbehavior have already leaked out, the board detailed other reasons for his firing, including using company aircraft for personal use and obstructing the flow of information between the company and the board. That's in addition to previously reported misdeeds, including buying a MassMutual condo at a below-market price, improper trading in his supplemental compensation account, personally motivated firing of employees, and interfering with an investigation involving two of the O'Connell clan.
But don't hold your breath for a happy ending for O'Connell. Board chairman James Birle seems to have made up his mind on at least one charge. "The trading practices were absolutely unbelievable to anybody who has anything to do with finance," Birle told the AP.
The board has "leaned over backwards to be fair" to O'Connell, said Birle.
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