Ousted MassMutual CEO Vows Fight

Robert O’Connell, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, has vowed to seek vindication.[@@]

A spokesman for the executive, who was formally fired Thursday, says O’Connell will vigorously contest the grounds for his dismissal.

“Simply put, he has done nothing wrong,” the spokesman says. “Having seen the evidence upon which the board action rests, he believes the board’s charges are baseless.”

O’Connell has hired Mike Keating and Dean Richlin, lawyers at Foley Hoag L.L.P., Boston, to start by seeking vindication through arbitration.

The board of MassMutual, Springfield, Mass., says in a statement about its decision to fire O’Connell that he “engaged in 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.”

O’Connell spokesman says the board’s action yesterday was “no surprise.”

“Some months ago, certain members of the board, aided by disgruntled members of management, began a carefully orchestrated campaign to drive O’Connell from office,” the spokesman says. “Squads of lawyers and investigators relied on innuendo, exaggerations and outright falsehoods.”

MassMutual has accused O’Connell of using at least 3 strategies to get unauthorized benefits from his relationship with MassMutual.