NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso said he may contemplate giving back $48 million in deferred pay if he gets an apology from the NYSE board for "destroying my reputation," according to an interview with Newsweek magazine.
In his first public comments since he was ousted by the board last year, Grasso said he nevertheless does plan to keep the entire $139.5 million he was paid in salary and compensation unless the board says they're sorry.
"If I give back a dime, that's an admission of guilt. I can't do that," the magazine quoted Grasso as saying. "But if they say I'm an honorable man and I did nothing wrong, it's the end of the issue. If not, let's go to war."
Grasso's comments come amid growing speculation that New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer could soon file a lawsuit against Grasso, seeking to get back some of what has been widely viewed as an exorbitant pay package.
After ousting Grasso, the Exchange demanded nearly $120 million back from him, according to the magazine.
Additionally, the article reveals that the New York Attorney General has new evidence that Grasso may have shared sensitive information about Spitzer's 2002 research investigation with NYSE-member firms that Grasso had regulated.
Spitzer has said he'd settle if Grasso returns $50 million, according to the magazine.