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Ex-Kmart CEO says he made mistakes leading company


Ann Arbor, Mich. A former Kmart Corp. CEO said Wednesday that he made mistakes while leading the company but didn't profit from its collapse into bankruptcy, according to the Associated Press.

Charles Conaway testified in federal court as part of an effort to avoid millions of dollars in penalties for misleading investors about Kmart's financial health in 2001. He said he tried to act in Kmart's best interests before its January 2002 bankruptcy filing.

"I've made plenty of mistakes and there are a number of things I would do differently," Conaway said. He said he spent too much time in stores trying to drive improvements for customers and didn't work closely enough with Kmart's chief legal counsel.

The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Conaway of failing to disclose Kmart was delaying payments to suppliers to save cash, months before the bankruptcy filing. In June, a federal jury in Ann Arbor found him liable in a civil trial.

Earlier in the day, SEC lawyer Alan Lieberman told the court Conaway would have been fired "for cause" and not been entitled to a $5 million retention loan if the truth about Kmart's finances has been known at the time. He said Conaway got $24 million in compensation for leading Kmart.

The civil trial's penalty hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Pepe resumes Thursday.

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