Legg subsidiary suspends a top officer

June 29, 2006|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK -- Barrett Associates Inc., a Legg Mason Inc.-owned investment firm, suspended its chief investment officer after he was named by an alleged New York prostitution ringleader as someone who helped her fund a luxurious lifestyle.

Andrea Schwartz, a Brazilian woman arrested in New York this month on drug, money laundering and prostitution charges, told the New York Daily News in an interview published June 17 that she received financial support from several men.

In statements to police made public yesterday by Manhattan prosecutors, Schwartz, who has pleaded not guilty, named Robert Voccola as one of her financial supporters. Voccola, who oversees $1.7 billion for New York-based Barrett, declined to comment when reached by telephone.

"We've been made aware of the situation and have suspended Mr. Voccola pending an internal investigation," Russ Vernon, chief operating officer for Barrett, said in a telephone interview. "The nature of the issue is such that there is absolutely no indication that any client accounts or funds are involved. We are cooperating fully with the authorities, and once all of the facts are known we will act accordingly."

Schwartz also named Time Warner Inc. Chief Financial Officer Wayne Pace in her statement as someone who gave her money. On Tuesday, Time Warner, the world's largest media company, said an inquiry after previous media reports of Schwartz's allegations found no evidence that Pace misused company funds. Yesterday, a company spokesman declined to comment further.

Pace and his lawyer, Mark Pomerantz, didn't return calls seeking comment.

In her statement to police, Schwartz said Barrett's Voccola was also her financial adviser, and gave her "about $50,000 a year in cash, mortgage payments and checks ... a credit card and financial advice, telling me where to invest, helping me with my mortgage."

Baltimore-based Legg Mason is the parent of Barrett, which provides investment management services for high-net-worth individuals, families, endowments and foundations.

Kathleen Wailes, a spokeswoman for Legg Mason, declined to comment.

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