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Tyco's millions: The people should benefit

February 19. 2013 4:57PM

Eleven years ago, the State of New Hampshire reached a settlement with Tyco International that involved Tyco giving the state $5 million to educate the public about investing and ethical corporate governance. The program still does not exist, as the state has sat on most of that money for more than a decade. It is time to use it, though not in the way originally envisioned.

Former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski looted the Exeter-based company of about $100 million, and in the process deceived the board and investors. His activities caught the attention of state and federal officials, and the state was on the verge of taking action against the company when Tyco's lawyers agreed to settle for $5 million. That settlement account now contains more than $7 million.

The state established a board to oversee the money. Its members include former Gov. John Lynch, former state securities chief Mark Connolly and USNH Chancellor Edward MacKay, among others. Originally, the funds were to be used to create a program on investor education and corporate governance at UNH. Now St. Anselm College wants access to the funds to start a similar program. That makes sense, but having two college programs does not go far enough.

Those funds rightly belong to the State of New Hampshire and should be used to benefit Granite Staters broadly, not UNH. The money should fund free online courses available to everyone. Any related courses established at New Hampshire colleges or universities with proceeds from the settlement should remain free to the general public. And USNH's representative on the board should recuse himself from voting on how the funds are used. The people, not UNH, should be the primary beneficiary of this settlement.

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