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NYSE bars former specialist firm CEO

/ Source: The Associated Press

Robert Luckow, former chief executive of the specialist firm Spear, Leeds and Kellogg Specialists LLC, has been permanently barred from the New York Stock Exchange and its member firms for failing to cooperate with an investigation into specialist trades, the exchange said Wednesday.

Luckow's former company last year agreed to a $43.5 million settlement with the NYSE for allegedly placing the company's trades ahead of customers in incidents going back to 1999. Luckow, who retired as CEO in late 2000 but kept his seat on the exchange, was notified a year ago that he was under investigation for alleged individual violations of NYSE rules.

NYSE regulators asked Luckow for his on-the-record testimony, which he initially agreed to provide on June 10, 2004, but then postponed, the exchange said. Luckow sold his seat on the exchange on June 17, the NYSE said, then failed to show up for his rescheduled testimony on July 8, the NYSE said.

Luckow's attorney, Richard Morvillo, refused to comment on whether his client did indeed violate exchange rules. "Mr. Luckow retired from the business some time ago. Rather than be burdened and inconvenienced at this time in his life, he consented to the NYSE bar," Morvillo said in a statement. Luckow consented to the NYSE's censure and permanent ban without admitting or denying guilt.

All seven specialist firms, which manage the stock auctions on the floor of the exchange and bring buyers and sellers together, agreed to pay a total of $247 million in fines and disgorgement penalties to settle their roles in the scandal. Specialists, who are often called upon to buy or sell stock from their own accounts to smooth out supply and demand, were accused of putting their own stock interests before those of customers.

While the firms themselves settled, the NYSE and federal regulators continue to investigate the activities of individual specialists. NYSE spokesman Scott Peterson would not comment on whether Luckow could still face further proceedings.