Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Koz Heads for Court and the Strain Shows; AS FIRST TRIAL SPARKED BY WAVE OF NINETIES AMERICAN CORPORATE GREED IS ABOUT TO BEGIN

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Koz Heads for Court and the Strain Shows; AS FIRST TRIAL SPARKED BY WAVE OF NINETIES AMERICAN CORPORATE GREED IS ABOUT TO BEGIN

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN PRYNN

IT WAS the image that defines the great age of corporate sleaze. How could the chief executive of a major US company put on expenses such ludicrous items of luxury tat as a $6000 shower curtain and a $15,000 umbrella stand in the shape of a poodle dog - and hope to get away with it?

Soon we will find out. On Monday jurors will start to be sworn in at the Manhattan Criminal Courts for what promises to be New York's trial of the year. It is also the first trial of any of the major players since the wave of scandals that have rocked capitalism began with the collapse of Enron.

In the dock stands the already diminished figure of Dennis Kozlowski, a well-padded Nineties uber-boss whose remarkable taste for company-financed excess was his spectacular undoing. To say that Kozlowski, 51, who ran the Tyco International conglomerate, enjoyed a lavish lifestyle scarcely does justice to the truly heroic scale of his spending in his prime years.

The stories are already the stuff of legend. With colleagues such as keeper of the company purse strings Mark Swartz, ruddy-faced Kozlowski extravagantly spent his way through the peak years of the bull market. Homes included a $13.5 million waterside estate in Boca Raton, Florida, and an $18 million Fifth Avenue apartment, decorated with Renoirs and Monets as well as the now-notorious shower curtain. His yacht was a teak-decked beauty called Endeavour, a 130ft sloop that costs $700,000 a year to run. There were also the donations to "charidee" and other worthy causes such as - excruciatingly - a chair in corporate governance at Cambridge University.

The reign of King Kozlowski perhaps reached its apogee of avarice with a now-famous $2 million 40th birthday party for his wife Karen in 2001. The celebration, the bill for which is said largely to have been paid by Tyco shareholders, featured an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David with vodka streaming from its best-known appendage.

Lawyers for Kozlowski have asked for video tapes of the party to be sealed ahead of the trial to prevent any chance of jurors seeing them and being influenced by its decadent images of bacchanalian festivity. …

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